Australian summers can be harsh at times, but there are things you can do to turn down the heat in your home.
Not everyone has the luxury of living in homes with high roofs, state-of the art-insulation and optimally shaded gardens. For those who don’t, summers can be hard to get by, but luckily, there are things you can do to get some much needed respite.
Spend little to no money
You don’t have to spend a fortune to feel a shade cooler when summer comes calling, and here are some things you can do without spending any or too much money.
- Choose the right fabric in the bedroom. Silk, satin and polyester sheets are ideal for cooler months, and in summers your best bet is to use lightweight cotton bed sheets and bedspreads. Cotton works well because it allows movement of air which not only dissipates heat but also reduced humidity. Besides, cotton also works well in absorbing moisture.
- Clothing and sleepwear. Cotton and linen would work way better than synthetic materials when it comes to summer dressing. Nights can be sweaty and uncomfortable if you don’t go to bed attired in the right manner. Loose cotton clothing is the obvious way to go, and the long and short of it essentially boils down to personal preferences. Some people swear by sleeping in the nude to keep themselves a tad cooler. Some others opine that the sweat that stays on their body, which fabric otherwise wicks away, leads to added discomfort.
- The high and low of it. Hot air rises to the top, so you might want to consider moving your cot or bed closer to the ground. If you live in a multi-storeyed home, consider sleeping in the basement or on the ground floor until the summer passes.
Fans or portable air conditioners?
Most people look at fans as inexpensive means to cool rooms, but while they cost less to run than air conditioners they don’t really cool a room. Instead, they work in moving air around which leads to evaporation of sweat from your skin, resulting in you feeling cooler. While an air conditioning unit works well in cooling any given indoor space, it comes with a higher operational cost. Most fans, for instance, use around 25 watts to 80 watts, and a portable air conditioner would draw more than 1,000 watts.
A 30cm desk fan at low speed would draw round 35 watts of power, which would result in around $5 per month as its operation cost. A 40cm fan at low speeds would use around 47 watts, resulting in a monthly expenditure of around $7. If you opt for high speed, expect it to draw around 60 watts, which would still take your monthly expense up to around $10. Compare this with using a 1,025 watt portable air conditioner that would have you spending around $160 a month, and you know just which option is more affordable.Back to top
What else can you do?
There are other changes you can make around your home to minimise the impact of summer, so consider the following.
- Install awnings. The American Department of Energy states that awnings work in reducing solar heat gain by up to 77% on windows that face west, and by up to 65% on windows that face south. Installing awnings can also help increase your furniture’s life.
- Plant vines. The effectiveness of vines when it comes to keeping the indoors cool would probably surprise you. Vines like Virginia creeper, Russian vine, and Ivy take little time to grow, and have a considerable cooling effect, with there being as much as a 50% reduction in daily temperature fluctuations. Vines not only shade your home, they provide a layer of insulation, and the process of enviro-transpiration also has a cooling effect.
- Paint your roof. Simply painting your home’s roof using a lighter heat reflective surface can have a noticeable effect on your home’s indoor temperature. Expect this to work in the same way as snow and ice reflect the Sun’s rays instead of absorbing them.
- Invest in external blinds. The use of exterior blinds is quite common in Australia and Europe, and not without reason. These work in combating the build up of solar heat by intercepting and diffusing the Sun’s rays even before they enter your home.
You can beat the heat this summer as long as you follow a few simple measures, and don’t forget that you should remain hydrated at all times.