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I live in a rental in Tucson, Arizona. The southern wall is thick and has thermal mass but never gets cool enough at night to prevent having to run the A/C to make it bearable. This is killing me with USD$150+ per month electricity bills.

I thought if I could place a tarp leaned against some ladders it would do the trick, but that creates a giant sail that is dangerous as even small breezes start catching it.

This is a rental and I cannot permanently modify the unit.

The average daily temperature for the next month will easily be 104°F! And the coolest I can get the apt down to is 84°F, even running the A/C at 3am.

I need a passive, non-electrical solution to keep the apartment cool as the A/C costs money I do not have.

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This looks more like a rant than a question. Could you rephrase it to ask a specific question? –  BMitch Jun 2 '13 at 22:18
    
Is it the wall, or is it the windows in that wall? –  DA01 Jun 3 '13 at 18:28
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2 Answers 2

A couple of options, which are limited because you're renting.

1) Draw your curtains closed to keep the sun out

2) Air movement really helps! Create a draft by opening doors or windows in the North and south sides of the house. If you don't have them, put some catches on the doors so they don't slam shut with the draft.

3) You might be able to install a ventilator in the attic space that removes the warm air and helps to reduce heat gain from above into your house.

This is a pretty good video. Didn't know about the other problems mentioned. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Nfvax0Ul5g

4) If 3 isn't an option consider insulate the ceiling (which is good for both summer and winter) - your landlord may pay for it, but if not it may pay for itself in savings to you if you're planning on staying long enough. If it's already insulated then you may benefit by adding more.

This will prevent excess heat entering the home from above (or leaving in winter). This heat gain is especially bad on homes with an iron roof.

For people who own their own homes that have heating/cooling issues.

Trees that shade in summer and drop their leaves in winter help enormously.

As do plants that cover housing like ivy. They keep the heat off of the building and insulate it. Not everyone wants ivy growing on their houses though.

Another option is to install awnings which fold out for summer use and provide shade from the high sun. It's a manual and in my opinion less attractive solution to using plants.

Cool the ceiling or attic space with a ventilator. This removes the hot air and helps prevent it heating up your home. You can get solar ones or passive ones.

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The sun should be at a pretty high angle on a Tucson summer day so just a foot or two of roof extension should shade your wall.

However, you are probably getting heat gain from the outside air as well.

One option would be to get some foil faced foam and place it against your wall on the outside. I'd get a couple of 2x4s and wedge them between the ground and your roof overhang to hold the foam in place. Dow makes this product:

THERMAX™ Sheathing is a non-structural, rigid board insulation consisting of a glass-fiber-reinforced polyisocyanurate foam core laminated between 1.0 mil smooth, reflective aluminum foil facers on both sides.

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