well, as with everything its not meant to fix a problem, its meant to help it. double walls, shade cloth or plants are going to lower heat, not eliminate it. the idea is that its cheaper to get a house that is 26 degrees down to 23 than it is to get a house that is 35 degrees down to 23. its the same with everything though. especially in water heating. Its WAY cheaper to heat water in Taiwan for showers than it is in canada just because the water (especially in winter) is literally 20 degrees warmer.
the shade cloth works, but only so well. all these things work, but there is a limit. the nice thing with plants is that each leaf serves as a mini piece of absolute shade cloth, and thus makes a single vine about as effective as 50 pieces of shade cloth slightly spaced.
plants i chose because they are free, they grow themselves, they are FAR better at cooling a wall than any man made knock off, plus they are pretty and attract things like bees and butterflies which are always a good thing.
I was thinking about shade cloth as I have a lot handy, I have built shade houses at the farm and when you walk under them (so long as the sides are open) they are really a lot cooler even just sitting outside in the full sun. still hot, but cooler
I use the 70% stuff for agriculture use, but you can get higher. 100' roll x 12' = $1500 I think. retail at nursery supply stores.
so to recap, its not about making things cool. if it was, then AC units would be obsolete. but it is so insanely easy to cut the AC bill in half without sweating all day.
one other thing. as there is concern about plants and buildings (although lets remember that most of these vines dont touch much of the house, as they are growing away from it for light) is this is Taiwan. the houses are brick and concrete, so there is little worry of plants getting right in unless you have their roots touching the house. and they are very easy to stop, with a $10 knife
the double walls I find worse for this than plants. is is because there are many bolts going into the building which through typhoons and wind will no doubt in time vibrate and maybe make the holes lees and easier for plants to penetrate. also i see plants growing up these walls, and even once killed will remain in there rotting and keeping everything moist....and due to them being made out of sheet metal, they rust in time.
the saying about the easiest way is often the best, ya
I am going to be stringing up the side of my house this weekend, cause its just WAY too hot! our roof is all green now and has made a small but noticeable difference in the heat, but seems the sides of the house that face the sun are the real ones to worry about, and those big metal doors, but cant really cover those in plants.
Just plan ahead. Your going to have 10k + each cycle in the summer months unless you want to do the sweat lodge thing. Get over it and recognize the other things you can do out of your home and for the same price for their AC. My wifey is home all day and the bill is high but that's better than other alternatives. At least I get a cold ham sandwich once in awhile. Criticism intended. Maybe it could be better.
I have not ever had a bill over $2000
And I am a candian that is very happy shoveling snow in shorts and t-shirt, i die in heat. but we do things that try and make up efficiency, and the result is big savings and less pollution .
I will put up pictures of where we live now (1 story farm house) and see how it goes. I am going to do the shade cloth as suggested above for our front big metal door, im glad that was mentioned or I would of never done it!