The mercury has risen across the country and for most of us air conditioning is a must to keep cool. However, even in the cool breeze of your air-con, your conscience is probably reminding you of the environment - not too mention your wallet. If only there were free and efficient ways of keeping your house cool during the summer without costing the earth.
Passive cooling may just be your new best friend, because there are plenty of energy efficient and simple methods for cooling your house without using machines. Attempt some of these methods to reduce the temperature of your house and heat up your wallet.
Non-mechanical cooling is the least expensive option for reducing the temperature of your home. The basics revolve around limiting heat gain and helping heat dissipation by using architectural design. The results will decrease the damage you are doing to the environment and your wallet.
The fundamentals of passive cooling depend greatly on the architecture and what architectural features you have to work with in your home. On top of this, you may also need to consider whether you simply need to cool the house or use techniques within the hotter and cooler seasons to regulate temperatures within your home.
To begin passive cooling you need to look at what you have to work with such as the following:
- Your property orientation
- Lighter coloured or reflective roof materials
- Using shade to protect walls, windows and rooftops from direct sun
- Incorporating architectural buffer zones
- Potential air ventilation channels
- Considering thermal mass
Insulation works both ways by retaining and reflecting heat. If you are building a house or simply making some DIY changes, correct insulation can really add value and save money. A well-insulated house will reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the year and can be achieved through a combination of fabrics, walls, floors doors and windows. Each combination will result in different insulative capacities, e.g. a house with terracotta roof tiles will heat and cool differently to one with slate roof tiles.
Most people do not have the luxury of building their own home so some inexpensive options to help you insulate your house could be:
- Providing shade on your north, east or west facing windows with awnings, shutters, louvres or screens
- Mounting thick blinds or curtains on those same windows
- Adding a UV protective tint to windows and glass doors
- Sealing gaps to prevent draughts
Open or Closed
The hot weather usually creates a divide in peoples opinions, some think its best to open windows and doors whilst others think close them all before the heat arrives in the morning. The good news is you can put down your battle-axes because neither are wrong.
A well insulated home will benefit more from closing its blinds, windows and doors to keep the house cool. However, if your house is poorly insulated keeping windows and doors open will be more comfortable, especially if there is a breeze.
Circulation of Air
Ventilating your roof can play a big part in keeping your house cool throughout summer. Obviously dependent on the type of property you live in, you can add roof insulation combined with either whirlybirds or eave vents to allow hot air to vacate the premises.
If these modifications seem a little costly a completely free method for cooling the house down is to open up all windows and doors once the sun sets to let the building cool down naturally.
Reducing Heat Creating Activities
Seldom is common sense very common. So, reducing activities that increase the temperature of your house should be avoided where possible. Try to avoid things like cooking a roast dinner as this acts like a radiator and heats up the kitchen very quickly, a cooler alternative may be a BBQ outside.
Keeping your house cool during the summer can be closely tied to reducing your electricity bill at the same time. Machines produce excess heat, so by only using them when you have to, you can reduce electricity consumption and heat contribution. The most common machines that produce lots of heat are computers, dishwashers, dryers, certain lights and televisions.
If the above tips still mean your house is unbearably hot its time to incorporate a hybrid technique. Air circulation is key to efficient cooling so ceiling fans can really help, but combine this with a thermostat controlled air-con unit and you can cool your house efficiently and effectively without having the machines on all the time. If however, air-conditioning is something you can’t be without, it’s a good idea to ensure that you have a modern, energy efficient unit and also consider your environment, e.g. an evaporative system will not work well in a humid environment. Plus, an incorrectly sized unit will also work overtime to cool a space too large for its size.
Essentially, we Aussies all love the heat and lifestyle that comes with it, but sometimes it can be unbearable. So, to cost effectively control the temperature in your house throughout the summer, try all passive cooling techniques and when absolutely necessary kick into affect your hybrid system.