Liveability Summer Checklist
Cooling summer tips for both you and your home
Turn off the Lights and TV
It’s always a good idea to turn off lights on hot summer days because they affect the temperature of the room. Incandescent light bulbs produce 95% heat, so they actually produce 19 times more heat than light. LEDs are 5 times or so more efficient, but they still produce 4 to 5 times more heat than light. However, because they do produce more light per unit energy consumed, the heat produced is also much lower. Switch to LEDs.
Turn off all heat sources such as lamps, plug-in power adapters, your computer and the TV when you’re not using them. Anything electrical in your home ultimately generates heat, so anything not being used should be turned off at the wall; it’s that simple.
Close Your Windows
It may not seem to make sense, but on hot summer days opening the windows will often make your home warmer, not cooler. Close windows – along with blinds and shades – before the sun hits your house in the morning.
When night falls, if the air outside is cooler open windows wide, particularly those oriented towards prevailing winds so you can take advantage of cross ventilation. This will allow the cool night air to circulate.
Windows on the east and west of your home receive low-angle summer sun, so shade these with curtains, blinds or shutters.
You can also invest in double-glazed or WERS rated windows to prevent unwanted heat from being absorbed through your windows. Double-glazed windows have two glass panels in the same frame, separated by a small space for air. The insulation properties of double-glazed windows stop a significant percentage of heat entering the home as they reduce the amount of radiated heat gained.
Windows Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) rated windows and WERS rated window films allow you to compare different window choices for their energy efficiency performance and according to the climate zone of your property.
Use Trees Strategically
Your house heats up when the sun beats down on it relentlessly on hot summer days. Let nature help reduce your energy bills – plant deciduous trees on the east and west sides of your home to shade your house.
Also consider planting trees or shrubs to shade high-heat areas such as air-conditioning units that emit heat, and driveways and walkways that absorb it. You can also put house plants – particularly larger potted trees – in front of sunny windows to absorb some of the sun’s energy.
Being Wise About Water in the Garden
Gardens typically count for the largest percentage of water used in the home – so through creating a low water garden, made up of native plants suited to your region, you can decrease the amount of water used to upkeep your garden. As rainfall typically decreases over summer, water restrictions may come into effect in your area, so having a low water garden will mean you are not relying on being home to water your garden for it to remain kept and alive.
Just as shady leafy trees work to shield your home from the sun’s rays, awnings can save you money on energy bills by cutting down on the heat your house absorbs. These can be fixed or retractable or you can rig up a temporary awning as they do in Morocco using fabric with eyelets, rope and poles.
For most climates, installing awnings between 450 and 600mm on north-facing windows will prevent the summer sun from heating up your home, leading to passive shading – meaning shading without any action from the occupant. Awnings between 600mm and 1200mm are required for tropical climates of Australia.
Insulate Your Ceiling
Keep unwanted heat out with bulk insulation or reflective insulation in your ceiling. Insulation is measures by its R-value (resistance to heat) and the value you require will depend on which climate you live in. While you can install insulation using DIY methods, it is best to consult with an accredited installer. You can also install insulation in the walls and floors for more effective measures throughout the year.
Reduce Cooking with the Oven
Don’t use the stove or oven to cook on hot days. Use the grill, microwave, a slow cooker or barbeque meals outside. Even better, eat fresh summer salads and no-bake desserts.
For more tips on how to stay cool this summer click here and visit liveability.com.au
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