In summer, when temperatures rise above 30 °C (86 °F), cozy means cool. Who doesn’t want to keep their home cool in such weather? The easiest solution, arguably the best though, is to install air conditioners. For various reasons, many people do not want to have air conditioning systems installed in their homes, or simply postpone this from year to year.
Here are some tips to keep your home cool in the absence of air conditioning. Remember, these solutions work best together, so take it as a whole-house approach.
Keep Outdoor Heat Out
Insulate your house properly: walls, window panels, ceilings, floors, basement, and especially attic and roof. This will keep outdoor heat from making its way inside.
Cool roofing can help make your home cool in summer, even if you live on the first floor of a high apartment building. A cool roof reflects heat and helps protect the whole building against it. Such a roof is either made of a reflective material, or is coated with a solar reflective film. An alternative solution to a cool roof is a green roof, but it is heavier, more expensive, and needs regular maintenance.
Use window screens like drapes, shades and blinds to block sunlight. Having a system of two or three types is better. The choice of fabric and color is really important. Natural fabrics are preferable on the interior, while insulated or reflective materials are ideal to use on the outside. When it comes to colors, choose only whites and off-whites on the outside.
Hang window screens as close as possible to the windowpane to keep outdoor heat from radiating inside.
Interior blinds are good, but not as effective as exterior blinds when it comes to keeping your home cool.
Install reflective solar films and/or awnings, especially on windows facing south, as ultraviolet radiation is more powerful from noon till mid-afternoon.
Did you know that, when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, reflective blinds can deflect up to 45% of the solar heat?
Mesh window screens are also useful, especially on windows that face east and west, as in the morning and evening the sun is less powerful. They are designed to diffuse radiation from the sun, which limits the amount of heat that can enter through the window. Mesh screens come in handy when you want natural light or when you keep windows open. They also provide protection against insects.
Make the Most of Natural Ventilation
Keep all windows open to air the house when outdoor temperature is lower than the indoor one. This is usually late in the evening, during the night and early morning. Make sure all inside doors are open so that the air can circulate freely. No curtains or other obstacles should block the currents of air. In this way you ensure the natural ventilation of your home.
If you do not want to stay or sleep in a draft, as this might cause problems to some people, use hopper windows or double hinged windows to keep tilted inwards at the top. This is also advisable for safety reasons, especially at night and when you are away, depending on the neighborhood, on the type of building, and on the presence or not of security systems.
Warning: you should know that some burglars can still get in through such windows left open at the top.
Suggested solution: keep a led lamp on at night no matter if you are at home or not.
Make the Most of Electric Fans
There is a wide variety of electric fans you can choose from. Opt for more powerful, oscillating fans with tilting heads. They will enable you to be creative at devising and implementing your own personalized ventilating system. According to your house plan, you should have at least two of them placed strategically to allow for a really effective cooling airflow to cover the entire interior space. Ceiling fans can also be a good solution.
If your house is on two levels, what you need is at least one electric fan on the inferior level and another one upstairs. When the outdoor temperature is lower than inside your house, you can replace the fan downstairs with one or more open windows, which will save energy. This arrangement will draw moving air throughout your house.
Use Heat-Generating Appliances with Moderation
Reduce use of electric or gas cookers. You can resort to a microwave oven instead, or order a healthy meal from a place you trust. If you really want to enjoy a good properly cooked home-made meal, you had better do that in the evening.
Avoid using the dishwasher and drier. You can wash dishes by hand and hang-dry laundry.
Install mesh screens at the windows and try to use natural light in daytime.
Limit the use of computers and TV’s, if you can.
Outdoor Solutions to Keep your Home Cool
Landscaping helps keep your home cool. Shade landscaping strategically placed around your house, or on the terrace or balcony, can reduce the amount of sun radiation that gets inside. Green roofing, trees and shrubs, grapevine shades are cool in more than one sense, and even cooler in combination with garden ponds and fountains.
One cheap solution is hang-drying laundry in front of windows or balcony doors, especially light-hued bed linen.
DIY Indoor Ice Pools
You can make your own ice coolers to place in each room, if you want. Use beautiful ice buckets or stone or ceramic vases, maybe the same you use to humidify the air in winter, and fill them with ice cubes. Make sure these containers are not porous and are heavy enough for better stability. Remember to refill them with ice every four hours or so. These DIY ice pools will surely keep your home cool and comfortable on torrid summer days.