Ugh, it doesn’t matter where in the United States you live, chances are you’ve been experiencing hot, hot, and more hot weather. Climate change is driving drought and extreme heat in areas that are usually temperate, and creating the perfect conditions for wildfires that are currently scorching the American West. On the East Coast, powerful storms have left millions without power for days, which means no air conditioning, no fans, and worst of all, no ice cubes.
If you’ve been sweating it out the past week or so, or are just looking for energy efficient ways to keep your home cooler without necessarily relying on traditional sources of electricity, we’ve got some good news: there are green gadgets that can help! On the following pages you’ll find five different devices that are designed specifically to help you beat the heat. Tell us if you know of one we missed!
Blight: Illuminating Solar Blinds
At first something called “Blight” might not sound like something to hand in the window, but when you realize the gadget’s name simply comes from a combination of “blind” and “light” it starts to make more sense. These cleverly designed Venetian blinds combine flexible solar cells with electroluminescent foil to create a window shade that will protect you from the searing sun during the day, and then repurpose that energy into light at night.
Solar-Powered Attic Fan
Solatube International, a company known for its passive daylighting systems, recently introduced a line of solar-powered attic fans that could help keep both the temperature and your utility bills from climbing too high. Admittedly, this is bigger than a normal gadget, but the solar attic fan comes fully assembled and can be installed in around 30 minutes, since there’s no need for any electrical wiring. Using energy generated by the fully integrated photovoltaic panel, the fan draws hot air and moisture out of the attic and discharges it to the exterior, providing an even, continuous flow of air. It can also help you qualify for impressive renewable energy tax credits!
Solar-Powered Perspex Desk Fan
So maybe you need instant relief. Or maybe you don’t have an attic. If what you want is cool air blowing in your face as soon as possible, this is the DIY project for you. Once assembled, it sets up like a sandwich board, with a solar panel on one side and a fan on the other, with a couple of little wires strung between. “Rotapower” is supplied via the sun; laser-cut Perspex provides the stability, with no glue or screws, making for easy assembly. As EarthTechling’s Susan DeFreitas reports “the solar cell can apparently pull juice from artificial light as well, so this fan will work even at night, when the only available illumination is a desk lamp.”
Solar Air Conditioning
Maybe the heat’s finally gone to your head. You’re taking cold showers every 10 minutes, and can’t stand another night of sticking to the bed sheets. Traditional air conditioning systems suck up huge amounts of energy, causing your utility bills to skyrocket, but if you’ve got an air conditioning system that runs on solar power, every hot sunny day means a cooler indoor climate at no extra charge. Recently, a team from the University of California, Merced, unveiled a technology that they say will make harnessing solar thermal energy to power air conditioning units simpler, cheaper and more effective. The External Compound Parabolic Concentrator (XCPC) system works by collecting thermal energy from the sun into specially made tubes. The heat is then transfered using existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.
Solar Safari Hat
We can’t always hide indoors behind a fan or heavy shades. Sometimes, even in the most oppressive heat, we’ve got to venture out into the blinding sunlight. On those occasions, it’s a good idea to cover up as much as possible, so the sun doesn’t damage your eyes and skin, as well as your temperament. A hat is a great way to keep the sun’s ray’s off of your face and heat, but we found one that can do even more than that. This weather-proof hat of natural linen straw uses built-in solar cell (or 2 AA batteries on cloudy days) to power a small fan that directs a constant cooling breeze to your forehead. It’s perfect for working in the garden, hiking a trail, watching your favorite sport or any other outdoor activity where you want to stay cool.