It’s time to think about preparing your home for summer. Do you have unpleasant memories from last year of sleepless nights because of the heat? Are you thinking about having air-conditioning installed? Well, before you spend a fortune on cooling systems it’s worth looking at ways of cooling your house naturally. More and more people are air-conditioning their homes, and every summer the stress on the electricity grid increases. People are also becoming more and more aware of environmental issues and the impact that energy consumption is having on our environment. It’s in everyone’s interest to reduce the amount of energy consumed by appliances, so it’s worth looking at alternative solutions to your summer overheating problems.

The main ways to cool your house in summer are through shading and natural ventilation. The best way to avoid heat problems in summer is to prevent it from overheating in the first place. If you have a garden around your house think carefully about the location of trees and shrubs so that windows are shaded in summer. If that’s not possible, the next step will be to look at pergolas, shutters, awnings, louvres or blinds. For north-facing windows, adjustable louvres, or ones that are set at 33 degrees to the horizontal, will allow sun to enter the house in winter but block it in summer. It is also possible to construct awnings or other sun-shading devices to allow solar penetration in winter, but not in summer. Similarly, deciduous trees will lose their leaves in autumn whilst maintaining a full canopy in summer to provide shade.

Natural ventilation is essential for cooling in summer. The first step is to find two openings at either side of your home to facilitate the natural of air flow from one side to the other. The openings will need to be a reasonable size for adequate flow to occur. If you don’t have windows that you can leave open safely it’s worth considering installing new ones such as louvres or awnings with a limited opening range so you don’t need to worry about security issues. Small high-level windows may also be the answer. If you don’t want to leave windows open all night, at least opening up your home between 7pm and bedtime will allow evening breezes to cool down your house.

There is more information on passive cooling, as well as other great energy-saving ideas for your home on the Australian Greenhouse Office website.

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