I've always been interested in the physical sciences. How stuff works is one of my favorite websites. Lately I've been wondering a very simple question. Why is my apartment so hot? I live in a two story house on the second floor with no air conditioning. I know what you're thinking, "Eureka!! You've answered your own question". Other than the obvious, the question I'm asking is why are houses designed in such a way where it constantly tries to store heat? Once again this may seem to be a straight forward "duh" type of answer especially in New England. "It's to keep heat in during the winter". I know that, what I'm really getting at is why are houses designed without the ability to automatically adjust to their environment?
Jared's Brain - "It's hot in here. Where does hot air want to go? Up. Why can't it? Ceiling. :( Hmmm". This conversation I had in my head lead me to the brilliant conclusion that I needed a giant hole in my ceiling. While this is a simplistic fantasy it does start me on a tirade of "why nots".
The main concept I keep coming back to is in a house especially with a basement there are two primary locations which naturally have different temperatures. The basement is cooler and the attic is hotter. The funny part to me is that we put the water heater in the cold basement and sometimes the air conditioner in the hot attic. It seems that the tools to keep our homes at the right temperature are right there is front of us. Add in the constant temperature of the ground (GeoThermal) at around 55 degrees, we could utilize these natural temps to heat/cool our houses.
In my mind homes should be alive. They should operate automatically much like the body regulates its temperature with sweating for cooling and reduced circulation to stay warm. Almost like homes need a circulatory system to bring heat and cool to the proper location via exchangers, ducts, cooling plates, etc...
This is a huge topic and I definitely do not have the expertise to speak intelligently about the cost/benefit of different approaches to home heating/cooling. What I will do is leave you with a few ideas I had which in conjunction or by themselves could be useful.
Roof/Attic Collectors - These would absorb heat from either the roof or attic
Ground Collector - This would provide cool water (around 55 degrees)
Building Core - A column in the center of a building which would be the transfer point carrying heat and cold to upper floors
Cool/Heating Plates - Metal heat sinks hooked up to the building core which allows for things like PC's, PS3,TV's which generate heat to connect directly to it. (All heat which need to be dissipated can be expelled via the heating/cooling system rather then via the air in the space.)
Controlled Vents - at the top and bottom of every room allowing heat up and cool down.
Intelligent Control System - which would control these and other devices maintaining the proper temperatures in each room much like our brains control our homeostasis.Ultimately I would like to see house construction take into account the surrounding natural resources and environment allowing these houses to provide a homeostatic temperature with minimal power and fuel consumption.