Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hot Air Rises

     I always listened to the teacher in class.  If I sit quietly and concentrate, I can remember everything, eventually.  But, there are a few things a teacher said in the old days that echo in my head.  Hot air rises.  Dr. Goddard, my High School Biology teacher, was off on a rant one day.  Someone moved his classroom fan and he was hot!  He gave us a lengthy lesson on the science of air flow.  Hot air rises.
     Hot air rises.  That is why the meat and cold keeper sections of a refrigerator are on the bottom. Cold air falls, hot air rises.  That is why the basement is cold and the attic is hot.  That is why it rains in Florida in the afternoon.  That is why the sunset winds in Vegas are so strong and why fire spreads UP a hill faster than down. I think of Doc Goddard every political season, since he used politicians as an example of hot air, too!  He said to watch them sweat, it was a sign of hot air rising out of lies!

     But, to my point, I have ever been able to keep my home cooler than some, with electricity bills lower than others by utilizing the principle of hot air rising.  When homes are built, the reason why air conditioning vents are in the ceiling is cold air drops as hot air rises.  Heater vents, furnace vents, are in the floor to fill the rooms with heat rising to fill the room, allowing the heated air to do what it does naturally.  The deployment of fans to circulate air when it has risen or fallen to it's lowest point eases the burden of the AC unit and spending some money on a fan, lowers the cost of running the AC on high all the time. 
     If you are not ready to make the leap to solar panel charged home heating, you can begin practicing the principle of hot air rising and cost cutting by employing circulating fans.  The next time your heater clicks on, tape a thermometer to your ceiling above the coldest place in the room.  It is hot up there, above your head!  A small, quiet running, six inch table or desk fan screwed or hung from a plant hanger pointing up will cause the air to move.  I like these clamp on desk fans.  They can be attached to existing architectural features or shelf units.  You can adjust the fan by clamping it under the shelf and pointing up.  This draws cold air up, causing the hot air to move where you can enjoy it.  The thermostat will read a more even heat and turn off the heater more often.   

     The basic solar convection heater is built on this same principle.  Allow cold air to enter a hot compartment and it forces the hot air to rise and escape the upper vent causing air to circulate, changing from hot air running past a window, dropping to cold air as the heat dissipates and returning to the bottom vent of the solar heater. 
A frame to hold the panel on the exterior of the home is permanent.  the panel is seasonal.  IT can be removed during warm months and replaced in the cold.  This heat depends on direct sun and can only minimize heating costs by not employing a furnace during the day.
    All of us who have ever enjoyed a nice winter fire know it is warmer near the fire.  At camp, we see people rotating to warm the front side, then the back side.  I like to use a fire pan.  If the night around the fire becomes frigid, I use the bellows to move the air under the pan.  I do not rotate!  I shield my back by using a blanket or I position myself with a tree behind me as a windbreak.  I adjust air flow under the fire pan, but watch out folks, you may also find my feet under there, resting on the frame!  That space is a convection oven for the feet!
    As I live in Florida, I use these same techniques to improve the flow of air and save the air conditioner from over working.  It is very hot against the wall behind the fridge and along that same wall in the kitchen, I call the cooking wall.  A fan blowing back here, keeps the air moving back into the room.  I place the fan above the fridge and point it down.  That forces hot air into to cooler air at floor level.  

     Now, the hard core prepper is asking, yeah, Carol, and that has what to do with prepping?    Well, I am also preparing for hard times, saving money to use for the purchase of prep goods and supplies.  Saving money, stretching a dollar, is a basic skill in everyday survival.  So are the skills of staying warm or cool and understanding your physical surroundings.  Little lessons add up to big skill sets, one at a time.  Hot air rises.  



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