Even in the greenest homes, AC is on this week

    Air conditioners around the Delaware Valley are humming this week as temperatures in the region hover around 100 degrees.

    DJ Starr’s year-old East Kensington home is fitted with the latest features to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer naturally. Triple-paned windows, honeycombed blinds, 10-inch thick, well-insulated walls and metal shades that keep the midday summer sun from reaching indoors are all aimed at moderating the temperature on hot days.

    “The house keeps the heat out very, very well and it keeps the cool in very well,” says Starr, a software consultant.

    Even here, though, the air conditioner has been working hard this week. Starr has two energy-efficient heating/cooling units, one upstairs and one downstairs. The upstairs unit ran steadily throughout the day Thursday, but the downstairs unit was on for only about an hour. By midday, the floor was still at a comfortable 77 degrees.

    Starr said he has been keeping comfortable in the heat wave by staying indoors.

    “I went out yesterday, and I didn’t leave the house until 4 p.m. for a meeting, and I was amazed at how stinking hot it was,” Starr said. “I’m really glad that I live in a house that’s energy efficient and quiet and cool.”

    One of the house’s developers, Nic Darling of Postgreen, said a new house without an air conditioner is a hard sell in muggy Philadelphia. The company built one house in Philadelphia without an air conditioner, the 100K house in Kensington. It stayed cool enough the first year, but last summer the temperature inside got to be about the same as the temperature outside.

    “The problem is that this last summer it just didn’t get cool at night,” Darling said. “It took about a month for the house heat all the way…but once it did, you know, you’re kind of screwed.”

    They installed air conditioning in that house this year.

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