As a kid, hearing that story made me think about having a cold nose and goosebumps. As an adult with a strong interest in sustainable methods, I am wondering about the kind of insulation, if any, was in the walls. What materials were used in the construction of the roof? Was the house raised on piers, allowing cold air to flow under it? Did the house have south facing windows? And a million other questions run through my mind. How could such a small house with so many people in it possibly be cold?
In this part of the country, we experience many more months of hot weather than cold, that's why so many houses were built on piers, allowing breezes to pass under the house to naturally cool it. However, that design does not help in winter. There are some designs that work for both winter and summer. For example, windows placed on the south side of the house will allow sunlight to warm the house in winter while shading the house in the summer. Double paned windows help keep heat in or out. Most of all, the best way to control the temperature indoors is to insulate well.
There are new products out there that do a great job of insulating, such as foam products, but there are also many ancient techniques such as using natural fibers like wool, plant fibers, and animal pelts. Wikipedia has an excellent article on natural fibers.
After hurricane Katrina, some neighborhoods didn't have power for municipal services like pumping water to neighborhoods. Some people did not have a way to get water and many had to leave their homes for weeks, disrupting all aspects of their lives. As a civilization, our dependency on electricity has crippled our ability to be self-sufficient.
To build sustainable, self-efficient, and robust economic communities, we should rethink how we currently design our homes and business places; We should take advantage of technology and modern conveniences while building back up systems and using natural methods, like passive solar techniques.
Why is passive solar important? Read these other posts.
- When did we start ignoring passive solar?
- Passive Solar Roof Design
- Passive Solar Design - from the cat's perspective