Deserts can be, and often are, unbearably hot in Midsummer. 116° in July and
August is common, and 120 is not rare. Nights are cooler but that might mean only 100°. Houses must have cooling or
be built underground, where temperatures remain fairly constant year-round, especially several feet below the
My choice would have been to build partially or completely underground, but my land has no
suitable places, soil depth being only two feet maximum; below that it is all granite. However, it is possible to
direct air to flow underground in this limited depth to cool it, and then to bring it up into the house.
Passive (no motor or fan required) air movement can be done in several ways: wind scoop -
common in the Middle East where summer breezes come regularly from the same direction. The wind is caught in the
scoop and moves down into the house through a shaft under its own momentum, sometimes first going completely
underground to be cooled on the way, possibly over some water, before coming up into the house.
Solar chimney - a black pipe on an outside wall is heated by sunlight, the air inside expands
and becomes lighter rising vertically in a chimney, creating a vacuum at the bottom, which pulls in more heated air
which in turn draws air out of the house. If doors and windows are closed and the house is tight, the
only way for air to enter the house (now a partial vacuum) is to move through the underground pipe. The system
is passive, powered by solar-heated air in the chimney, which sucks air from the house, drawing air up from
Update 2014: The house is now going in underground, so no cooling system is needed.