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Using ice to cool off your house - Collier County's webmaster musings

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I'm intrigued by the idea of using ice to save on air conditioning...

I've made all of these postings about using ice to cool off a building because it interests me. I saw a report on a Sunday morning news broadcast and started to research online.

One method used by large buildings basically created a whole whopping bunch of cold air using ice makers at night to cool off large rooms. During the day, the extreme cold air in these special insulated rooms gets distributed throughout the buildings in the system, from the cold air straight through the HVAC air ducts that already exist. In other words, a chiller room, sorta like sticking your head in the freezer to cool off during a hot summer day.

Another method is more akin to how solar water heaters work, but in reverse. In solar water heating, the sun heats up coils that then heat up a large barrel of water or some other substance. At the same time, cold water pipes that lead up to your current hot water heater run through this super-heated water tank and PREHEAT the water going to your hot water heater. Then your hot water heater has to use less electricity (if any at all) to heat up your water using electricity, thusly saving energy.

In this case, in the case of the ICE BEAR system, your air conditioning unit is used during the night (where you COULD get cheaper electric rates if you negotiate with your electric company (like the big companies can) to cool off water in what amounts to a giant Igloo cooler.

Your current A/C unit would run constantly all night long to accomplish this task. Since your A/C is probably running at night ANYWAY, it's not adding a heck of a lot of electricity from what you use now at night.

The refrigerant coils run through this water.

During the day, the A/C unit runs as normal but the refrigerant coils are PRE-COOLED using the block of ice and it no longer has to fight as hard against the outside HOT AIR temperature, since the ice is pre-cooling it.

Remember: your air conditioning is in a constant FIGHT against outdoor temperature. That's why insulation in the ceiling of your living space is so darned important - the A/C air is fighting against the hot ATTIC AIR. That's why you need to keep your A/C condenser pipes insulated with cheap foam covers.

Now, what I wonder is this: 1) Can you freeze blocks of ice in your freezer (using milk jugs) and place them by the air intake handler in your house, thus cooling the air being sucked into the A/C unit, effectively PRE-COOLING the air itself before the A/C unit has to cool it off?

2) Could you use blocks of ice hung under the soffits of your house to PRE-COOL the air going up into the attic? (the air going up your soffits is what cools off the attic, for without them an attic would be even HOTTER than it already is).

3) Could you use blocks of ice around the CONDENSER COILS, but the ones that are HOT - the o nes going to your outdoor unit that gets exhausted by that giant fan? Then the fan doesn't have to run as much, saving energy.

I think this may help (one of these or perhaps another notion I haven't considered) because: your freezer is running ANYWAY. The more you have in your freezer that's frozen, the BETTER the freezer runs (ie - more energy efficient. A half-filled freezer uses more energy than a full freezer).

I wonder if you could retrofit a cheap CHEST FREEZER for this purpose? You'd need a small pump to move the refrigerant coils through the chest freezer (which would be filled with water) or would the savings in the A/C running costs be eaten up by the chest freezer?

I wonder if any HVAC people are hanging around that can answer some of these questions for me. I don't want to install anything today, or even tomorrow but it's a technology that's so basic that it intrigues me.

I believe, firmly, that a do-it-yourself solution is coming SOON.

If I see a Mother Earth News article about this, it's going on a.s.a.p. Or if I figure it out, then I'LL have to write them and stick it up on this website and syndicate it.

Kenneth Udut Copyright 2007, NeighborHelp Referrals Webmaster: htp://


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on Jan. 6 2011

Hi, I also am intrigued with trying to save energy while cooling my house. My idea is to use a chest freezer equipped with several or more radiator coils inside all piped together. Then piped to one radiator coil set in the central ac duct going into my house. Then fill the freezer with ice and water and circulate the water with a small pump. Set the A.C. unit to fan only and add ice every day from the large ice machine we have at our work location. "Free ice" "cheaper A.C." Maybe this will work.
Using ice to cool off your house - Collier County's webmaster musings I'm intrigued by the idea of using ice to save on air conditioning...