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Local Government Commission


Winter 2014

Introduction to Wets the Difference

by Joseph Oldham

Back in 2001, I was re-introduced to evaporative cooling as an effective alternative to compressor-driven air conditioning here in the San Joaquin Valley.  The introduction came through my long-time friend and fellow energy efficiency advocate, Bob Riding.  Bob had invested in advanced evaporative cooling for his 2,600 sq. ft. two story home east of Clovis.  He had told me how effective the cooling performance of his system was and that it used about 80% less electricity than conventional A/C.  Having lived with evaporative cooling back in the 1950s growing up in Fresno, I was skeptical.  I remembered how those old “swamp” coolers did not do much cooling when the temperatures climbed above 85 degrees.  Houses that had “swamp” coolers in the ‘50s often felt “muggy” and “damp”.

So one summer afternoon in 2001, I visited Bob at his home to see and feel for myself how these “new” coolers worked.  It was heading toward 100 degrees that day when I walked into the house and I was instantly surprised at how cool and “fresh” the house felt.  We walked upstairs and I actually got cold…  Bob explained about the advanced evaporative systems and how they had improved over the years.  I came home that day, called my contractor, and told him I wanted to install an advanced evaporative cooling system on my home.  Twelve years and three homes later, I have not used conventional air conditioning more than a total of 4 weeks since I re-discovered evaporative cooling.  The house stays in the 70s during the day, gets down to the low-60s at night, and our bills don’t go over $145 for electricity for a 1,500 sq. ft. house.

Bob’s article, “Wets the Difference”, is informative and fun.  There are new evaporative cooling units coming to market each year, so if you are tired of high summer power bills for cooling and/or you are tired of having to sweat at home for 5 months to keep your summer bill low, evaporative cooling might be for you.  It was for me!

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