October 05, 2008
The "swamp cooler" is more technically defined as an "evaporative cooler." It cools the air by forcing air through a water-soaked filter, producing cool, humid air (hence the term "swamp"). Swamp coolers only work well if the summer dew point is consistently below 60. They're inexpensive, low-tech, much lower-power than conventional air conditioners. But they use water in an arid climate (not a lot, but constantly), and being exposed year-round to the elements, tend to spring leaks.
Because the Great Basin is predominantly high-altitude desert (Sandy has an elevation of 4,450 feet), even during the summer the temperature can fall from over 90 degree during the day to below 70 degrees at night, so any kind of whole-house ventilation can quickly cool things down.