Beat the heat and chill out with these six smart strategies
A climber over a pergola gives you a gorgeous living canopy. Image: Alamy
The warmer months are here and as usual they bring sweltering temperatures that can quickly turn the home into an unbearable furnace.
Air conditioning is an effective solution, but there are also simple preventative steps you can take to minimise heat build-up and create a comfortable, cool sanctuary.
1. Add insulation
If you’re renovating an older home, wall and ceiling insulation is one of the best ways to control the temperature and, in many cases, it is mandatory to have it installed.
Up to 87% of a home’s heat is gained through windows, so double glazing or window films can keep temperatures low especially when combined with insulated curtains.
Sealing gaps in walls and around windows as well as installing door seals also helps keep the house cool.
2. Shade windows
Protecting the interior of the home from direct sunlight can reduce the temperature. Installing awnings and eaves over windows and doorways prevents heat entering during summer without blocking out the sun in winter.
3. Create ventilation
Make use of the natural breezes by opening a small window on the cool side of the house and a large window on the hot side.
This will create a vacuum that draws in cool air and expels hot air. It also prevents a build-up of heat and makes your home less stuffy.
Keep the windows and doors closed during the hottest part of the day and open them at night once the temperature has dropped.
TIP Roof ventilation prevents heat build-up in the roof cavity, which in turn reduces room temperature.
4. Cool efficiently
When it’s so hot that the air conditioner is necessary, you can still make it run efficiently to keep bills low.
If yours is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a new model, choosing one that suits the size of the room. Keep it efficient by shading the external unit and cleaning the filter every month during summer.
Set the thermostat as high as you can tolerate and close rooms you aren’t using so it won’t need to work as hard.
5. Smart landscaping
Create a shady oasis in the backyard with smart planting and landscaping. Deciduous trees planted on the northern and western side of a house will provide shade in summer without impeding sunshine in winter.
Use shade structures like pergolas or awnings over concrete or paved areas, as hard surfaces can reflect and radiate heat towards the house. Solid walls can also provide shade to create a cool and relaxing area in the yard.
6. Adding a water feature
When landscaping a backyard, incorporating a water feature can help make the area more comfortable through evaporative cooling.
It also adds a peaceful ambience, providing a relaxing environment that can take away the stress of a hot day.
A water feature that you can cool your feet in or a small plunge pool is even better, as nothing beats a quick dip in the heat of summer.
TIP Add a fountain to ensure that the water is always circulating to discourage mosquitoes.
Cooling on a budget
A few simple practices will cool the house and save you money.
USE FANS to circulate the air in the house before turning on the air conditioning.
COOK OUTSIDE on the barbie to minimise the amount of heat generated inside the house.
CREATE SHADE over outdoor areas so they remain cool in the evening for alfresco dining.
TURN OFF APPLIANCES at the wall as many use power and heat up even when in standby mode.
POSTPONE CHORES until the evening to stop appliances from heating the house.
USE LEDS OR CFLS (compact fluorescent lights), as they generate less heat than incandescent bulbs and will also reduce your power bill.