20 Nov 5 Tips to help cool your home this summer
Perth’s long hot summer is finally here. At Custom Green we have put together some easy ways to help keep your home cooler naturally.
Most homes in Perth have not been designed for our Mediterranean climate. When the heat starts to creep up, air-conditioners are switched on, often run all day and all night to keep indoor areas cool. As you may know, heating & cooling are usually the biggest costs to our electricity bills, accounting for up to 40% of energy usage in the home. (Source: Your Home, 5th edition)
1. Let the Freo Doctor breeze in
In the Perth and the South West summer, we’re blessed with an afternoon onshore cooling breeze, locally known as the Freo Doctor. Air movement is the most important element of passive cooling as it helps flush heat that accumulates throughout the hot summer days out of our homes. Breezes will also help ‘pull’ heat out of home surfaces as they flow past. To encourage air movement in your home, open all windows and doors in the afternoon once the outdoor air temperature is cooler than inside your home. You can help the breeze move through to cool your home by placing landscaping, walls or screens strategically to catch and feed the breeze through a window or door rather than pass it by. Growing foliage on the south/west side of the home will also help cool the wind before it enters your home.
Internal as well as external shading provides the best protection, blocking unwanted heat gain in summer. By selecting the best shading device for your room, you can avoid the summer sun while still allowing those warming rays to provide warmth for your home in winter. The ‘weakest’ point to a room in terms of temperature exchange are the windows, accounting for up to 87% of heat gain. (Source: Your Home, 5th edition). Protecting the windows is the best means of keeping your home cool in summer whilst reducing energy costs.
External: The eastern side of Perth homes is exposed to radiant heat from the low-lying morning sun. Exposure can be minimised in Summer with protection from shrub foliage. The western side is exposed to the radiant heat from the low lying afternoon sun as well as the higher ambient air temperature. Rooms facing west may remain cooler during the day, but by the night they can be the hottest part of your house. These areas should be protected with shrub foliage, tree canopies and ground cover if possible. The northern side of your home ideally requires shading that is removed in winter to allow the low-lying sun into your home. Suitable options to consider are shade sails, deciduous plants or external fabric awnings. Any paving or concrete will also need protecting to avoid heat retention and transfer into your home.
Internal: Your blinds may look great and provide privacy, but most don’t keep heat out, unlike curtains. Curtains are sometimes considered old fashioned, but they are fantastic insulators. A properly designed pelmet system with full block out curtains dropping from ceiling to floor, and wall to wall creates an insulating air void. This air pocket between the curtain and the glass prevents heat from conducting through to your internal space.
On a hot summers day there’s nothing better than sitting on a patch of lawn under the shade of a tree. Landscaping is a fantastic way to protect the house from heat, providing seasonal shading to walls and glazing and also an integral part of the sustainability of your home. A long-term solution is to plant native deciduous trees in summer for shading due to their thick foliage. They will also drop their leaves in winter to allow the sun to heat your home.
For a great quick greenery solution we love green walls. These can easily be installed over a weekend. Green walls, or vertical gardens, not only look amazing, absorb carbon and reduce noise, but they also provide shading to exposed walls. If you’ve always wanted to grow your own food and lack the garden space, install a green wall and plant some of your most commonly used herbs and vegetables.
To find out more, talk to your local garden centre or arborist about installing a green wall and which tree species will lose the foliage at the right time of the year.
4. Seal it up
You’ve opened your windows, installed some curtains, and planted a green wall, yet your home still feels a little warm and uncomfortable. Is your hard work being undone by hot air filtering through air leakage points? Check windows and doors, ducts, vents, exhaust fans, gaps around your ceilings, cornices, skirting and pipework.
Seal small gaps and cracks around your windows, cornices and skirting with caulking sealer. Install draught strips to the bottom of your doors, or throw a door snake under the door when it’s closed. Exhaust fan and wall vent covers can also be purchased from local hardware stores and are easy to install.
5. Change your habits
A little bit of work can go a long way, and just changing your habits can make a huge difference to how comfortable you feel indoors. It’s easy to switch on the air-conditioner when summer hits, but once you start turning it on your body gets used to the cool space. Acclimatising takes time but is made easier when using evaporation and fans.
Learn how to operate your home. Opening windows and doors at a certain time, know what time to seal your home on a hot summer morning.
There is a real sense of connection allowing our bodies to acclimatise to the direct environment as well as the independency knowing how to operate your home.
Best of all, taking a little care will ensure your energy bills are reduced whilst caring for the planet.
The team at Custom Green wish you a long, warm and beautiful summer!