Summer is fast approaching which means it’s the perfect time to prepare strategies for keeping your family home cool. Thanks to rising energy costs, now more than ever, homeowners have to look for smarter, more sustainable solutions to combat the harsh Australian heat. Simply running the AC round the clock may work, but you’ll be paying dearly for the privilege. And if a power outage hits, what then?
To help you prepare for summer, here are some economical and sensible approaches you can take to cool your home and avoid being hit with extreme energy bills.
Insulating Your Home
People often think about how having home insulation helps trap heat in your home during winter. However, it is just as effective in summer as it is in winter, by stopping the outside heat from seeping in. It’s best to think of home insulation as a barrier, preventing the flow of heat between indoors and outdoors in both directions. So really, it’s a solution that is useful year round and has the added benefit of making your other approaches even more effective as it works hard to keep the heat out and the cool in.
Making Use of the Environment
Sometimes the old ways are best and you just have to rely on nature and your surroundings to do the job.
Probably most effective is simply opening up the house once the sun has gone down, especially if there’s a breeze coming through. With open windows, the circulation of air moves the stuffy old air out while providing comforting airflow. Of course, it’s best to have fly screens on your windows to stop bugs getting in.
If you want to draw a cool breeze through your home more effectively make use of air pressure. To do this partially open windows (say 50% for sliding windows) on the windy side of your home and fully open them on the non-windy side. This will help draw the cooler air through your home. If you have louvre windows angle them towards the floor for a better result. Opening a window on an upper floor gives the stuffy heat somewhere to go and can lessen the hurt a bit.
While a more long-term plan, having some natural shade from overhanging trees is another thing that can really help keep the sun off windows. These simple environmental approaches may not always be options, but when they are they’re effective and best of all, free.
The most obvious, straightforward solution to efficiently keeping your house cool is to keep the sun out. It goes without saying the significant impact that sunlight pouring through a window can have on the temperature inside your home. That is why sun protection is such an important thing, as it combats one of the biggest causes of your home heating up.
One of the best solutions to protect against the sun is to install shutter blinds over your windows. While you could look at outdoor blinds as well, these blinds allow you control how much light you let in simply by turning the shutters. What’s more, during the rest of the year, you can leave them open to give a truly stylish, Hamptons, look to your windows. In the end, investing in shutter blinds is well worth the time and affordable cost of installation, as the protection they provide from the sun will help pay off in the long run.
Running Fewer Appliances
One thing people tend to forget is that using household appliances can often heat up a home just as much as the outdoors. Things like cooking in a kitchen can produce a lot of heat that has nowhere to go. Consider using the barbeque outside as much as possible during summer, not just to keep that heat out but as a chance to make the most of the season. Another big culprit is the clothes dryer, which can really drive up the heat and humidity in your laundry. Again, look to moving it outdoors on a clothesline or rack. The clothes will be dry before you know it anyway.
Yet another, less obvious, problem can be the type of light bulbs you use to light your home. While keeping your lights off is generally the coolest option, LED bulbs produce considerably less heat than halogen bulbs when they’re on, so consider making the switch to LEDs if you need the lights to stay on.
Some seem to think that just blasting the air conditioning is the only way to keep a home cool in the heat of summer. But actually, a little finesse in how you use your climate control can go a long way in using your air conditioning more efficiently. One way is simply adjusting it up a degree or two and using these other methods to make up the difference. You’d be surprised how much your energy use drops as a result.
Another option is to make use of “zones” in the house, allowing you to only cool certain parts of the house that actually need it or that are occupied during the day. Similarly, making use of the sleep timer function means you can be more selective in when you cool your home as well.