¿ Elephant ? What elephant? Don’t think of an elephant!
It occurs to me that a huge savings could be realized across the warmer regions of the world by insulating these flat concrete roofs which shade us and keep rain off our heads. The problem is termed thermal mass; and the concept is that of absorption-and-release. The more mass an object has, the more energy it can retain and release. Therefore, your concrete ceiling overhead in your bedroom is a gigantic radiator, soaking up solar energy all day, and releasing it overnight into your sleeping quarters.
So, rather than paying the carbon industry over-and-over to cool your bedroom, why not pay a local mason just once to prevent it from becoming hot? This idea dropped into my consciousness this morning, after a lovely, restful sleep last night – our bedroom having been cooled by a substantial shower late in the day. As folks from New England say Dawn broke over Marblehead (my gourd) this morning to reveal to me the thought of insulating the ceiling against the importing of that heat from the roof into our sleeping quarters.
Last year we had a mason build a patio roof for a small courtyard, which space was entirely too hot and bright to be of any use. A friend suggested we use a styrofoam material to form the mass of the roof, instead of using concrete, which has been the older practice here. But technology is advancing. A few streets away there is a masonry supply, Angel Verde, which carries styrofoam block panels in various thicknesses, designed to fit between vigas (precast concrete beams). So we used this material to form the major portion of our patio roof, thus reducing the mass of that overhead “radiator” by many tons. And now this patio space is the coolest, most delightful space of the entire home – after adding screened protectores to keep out skeeters, critters, varmints, and other unwelcome visitors.
So, my latest curiosity has me researching interior and exterior foam-insulation applications for existing concrete roofing/ceilings, to ward off that herd of elephants so ready and willing to deliver massive heat into our living quarters.
As they say, Stay out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat. (And don’t move to Yucatan if you’re not prepared to deal with it!) But energy efficiency (and comfort) can be improved for the entire planet, if we would simply stop throwing money at our problems, and instead, ponder other approaches, defining the problem, rather than merely treating a symptom.