In New York they are now using ice to cool buildings
but the idea has been around for a while; the machines make ice at night during off-peak hours when electricity is cheap and it is cooler, and therefore easier to make ice . John introduced us to the Ice Bear, which was being tested in commercial applications; Two years later, they have a hit on their hands. The Ice Bear 50 holds 50 ton-hours of cooling, or the equivalent of five tons of cooling running constantly for ten hours. Also, when it gets really hot conventional condensers for air conditioners can't throw off the heat as easily; the Ice Bear doesn't care, and is unaffected by ambient temperature. Unfortunately John promised us a TreeHugger sized smaller unit; Ice Energy is still promising it, for delivery "in 2007". ::Ice Energy
Other cool ideas: converting a chest freezer into a fridge. Chest freezers are common but not very popular because a standup is more convenient, but every time you open the door all the cold air falls out. In a chest unit it stays put, so it is far more efficient. ::Retrofitting Freezer
We thought this was such a good idea that we looked online to see if anyone was making them, and found that off-gridders can buy a 12 volt 5.8 cubic foot fridge that will run on a 75 watt solar panel. ::Sun Danzer
Justin took a lot of heat for this post "Teens Invent Freon-Free Air Conditioner" except that they really didn't.
John answered the question about air conditioner condensate: Can I Drink It? No.