When the temperature goes up in Summer, it’s tempting to hit the button on the air con to cool things down. This is simply not an energy efficient option. In fact, relying on heat pumps to act as air conditioners has seen electricity usage in some places peak on the hottest summer days as opposed to the coldest winter days. So here are our top tips for making you and your home feel cooler, while still being energy efficient. The best part? Many of them cost little or nothing to achieve.
Water regulates the body’s internal cooling system so drinking a cold glass of water will help to cool your down. What about a cup of tea or coffee; don’t hot drinks cool you down better? This is a myth. The reason you might think you feel cooler is because drinking a hot drink actually heats you up and makes you sweat. Then the sweat does what it’s supposed to - evaporate and you cool down.
An obvious solution you may think. But be smart about which windows you open. For best cooling effect, open them on opposite sides/ends of the house to create a good through-draught.
This one isn’t ‘low-cost’ but it’s such a good investment with benefits year round. In summer, an un-shaded single-pane window can account for a HUGE percentage of a home’s accumulated heat. Double-glazing can reduce solar heat gain through your windows by around 13%. You can also choose glass with improved thermal properties and tinting that can reduce that by more than 50%!
Put a reflective film on the outside of the glass to bounce heat away. The cooling effect of this is further helped along by decreasing thermal mass; by noting allowing the solar heat in the window your big furniture won’t have the chance to absorb it let alone radiate it back out.
Close curtains and blinds
As mentioned above, the amount of solar heat coming in through the windows is huge. Approximately 30% of unwanted heat comes in your windows so keeping curtains and blinds closed will help, especially during peak sunlight hours and on windows that face the sun.
Having them thermal lined is also very effective. If you’re on a budget you could consider only thermal lining the curtains and blinds that are located in rooms with direct sun.
Also, white or light coloured curtains and blinds are better at reflecting heat and light away from your home. If you have thick, dark curtains, closing them will only trap heat in the room.
Heat rises, that’s basic science. In a multi story home heat rises making the upstairs a hotter place to be. Stay in the downstairs areas to be cooler in summer.
Fans and air con
Fans don’t actually cool the air, they circulate it and that helps us feel cooler. Adjust your ceiling fan seasonally. In Summer it needs to run counter clockwise at high speed to blow air straight down.
If you really have to use the heat pump, try to save on energy and use it only on the very hottest days, or parts of the day. And try using the fan or dehumidifier functions over the cooling function.
Turn off appliances and lights
When you can of course. Obviously the fridge has to stay on, but as this generates a lot of heat you could open a window nearby to try and counter it.
Use the BBQ as cooking inside creates a lot of extra heat.
It’s easier to cool your body down rather than a whole room or home. To chill out quickly press an ice pack (or pack of frozen peas, ice cubes in a flannel, etc.) to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, ankles, behind the knees, even the groin if you can handle it!
Pop a hot water bottle in the fridge all day (or in the freezer for an hour before bed). Rest it against whatever part of you feels the heat most at night.
Get an electric fan and a bowl of ice cubes (grab a bag of ice from the petrol station if it’s going to be a really hot day), pile it up and position it at an angle in front of a fan. As the ice melts the fan whips the chilled water off the top creating a cool misty spray.
Build for the sun
Prevention is better than a cure so the best way to deal with solar gain in summer is to stop it in the first place. If you’re building new you can factor things into your plans like high windows to create a draught that pulls warm air out of the top of the room, good insulation, a light coloured exterior, roof overhangs, external shutters, window screens and awnings in areas likely to get a lot of sun exposure.
To find out how much sun your site gets during summer, try the Sun Seeker app or similar.
For more advice on making your new home energy efficient, download our free guide now.