Question - The afternoon heat from the south and west is intense. The walls stay hot all evening. Is planting flowering climbing vines on a trellis be an effective shading method? Which vines are best? - E. H.
Answer - Growing flowering climbing vines is an effective natural method to cool your home. Every imaginable color of flower or bright berry is available. Several vines also have attractive foliage with unique shapes and colors.
In addition to just providing shade for your house, vines cool by a natural process called transpiration. As they give off moisture, the air is cooled, like when you perspire. Vines planted several feet from your wall can lower the air temperature near the wall by 10 degrees or more.
Plant deciduous vines on the south and west exposures so the winter sun can shine through for free solar heat. Select ones with an open vine pattern. Even without leaves, a heavy vine pattern blocks much of the winter sun.
The simpler the trellis design, the better. Some very ornate trel-lises look great, but they block too much of the winter sun. A simple rectangular trellis built with lightweight lumber is effective and easy to make.
When selecting climbing vines, check the weather "hardiness zone" of each variety. Not all varieties can survive severe winter temperatures or harsh summer conditions. Also consider the maximum length of vine to be sure it will cover the trellis that you build.
Two excellent groups of shading vines are ones that attach themselves with tendrils and ones that twine. Avoid vines that attach directly to a wall because they may hold in moisture and may damage the wall over time.
Twining vines are my favorite type for growing on a trellis. A simple copper wire trellis works well with twining vines. They quickly twist around it. Copper weathers to a green patina, so it blends with the vines.
Ask your nurseryman which way the twining vine typically twists, clockwise or counterclockwise. Most varieties twist one way or the other. It helps to know this to twist them the proper way when you plant them.
To shade a glass patio door or picture window, select a vine that naturally grows horizontally too. Make a copper wire trellis that runs vertically up the west side of the window and horizontally along the top to form an awning.
Climbing vines are good for the environment. They consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen thus improving the environment and reducing the harmful greenhouse effect. They do not harm the ozone layer like air conditioners.
Write for Update Bulletin No. 895 listing 60 varieties of climbing vines, common and botanical names, vine lengths, growth habits and characteristics, flowers and colors, hardiness zones and a hardiness zone map of the U.S. Please include $2.00 and a business-size SASE. Write to James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Question - In the winter it makes sense to lower the thermostat setting whenever I am away. Is the same true in the summer (raise it) or does it just use more electricity to cool it down again when I arrive home? - T. H.
Answer - The only difference between summer and winter is that the heat flows in instead of out. The rules for setting the thermostat are the same. Setting the thermostat higher makes good sense if you are gone for several hours.
The only caveat is if you have allergies related to higher summer humidity levels (molds and dust mites). It is important to maintain a low humidity level. If the air conditioner stops for several hours, humidity will rise.