Affordable Cooling at its Peak

July/August 2001
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2001 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about Retrofit
July 01, 2001
An inexpensive process for adding reflective coatings to rooftops saves energy and lives.
        Prompted by the summer heat wave of 1999, during which 52 Philadelphians died of heat exposure in their own homes, the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a round of emergency cooling funding. These funds provided $100 grants to help cover the electricity bills of eligible seniors and disabled persons, and fans or air conditioners for those with medical needs. The nonprofit organization I direct, the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), had the responsibility of delivering more than 4,000 air conditioners and 2,000 fans.For many, this assistance will prevent suffering and what health professionals call “excess morbidity” in future summers.         Unfortunately, this cooling equipment was not accompanied by any energy conservation treatment to offset the higher electricity bills that the funding was inadvertently causing. Prompted by the experience of delivering all those expensive-tooperate air conditioners,we strove to design a solution that would better help our clients: a passive cooling approach that reduces indoor temperatures to healthy and comfortable levels without increasing the customer's energy bills. The keystone in our approach was a light-colored roof,which could reduce summer heat gain.We secured funding to perform a 400...

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