It is officially summer!
You may have felt that summer heat months before and if you do not know yet, that is probably because of the El Nino phenomenon.
Record strong El Nino is predicted to cause extreme hot weather all over Australia from October 2015 to April 2016.
Warmer temperatures are expected and so are incidences of bush fires, droughts and heat waves.
To different individuals, this may simply mean sweltering hot, uncomfortable days when you just want to take a dip in the water.
But, if you can’t go to the beach or if it is really time to go back home, how can you keep your house comfy from the heat?
Eartheasy.com suggests three natural ways to cool your house temperature:
There are three ways to block the heat from coming into the house:
Insulating, Caulking and Weather-Stripping
Insulate your roof and attic floors to make sure the heat from the sun does not radiate down the house.
Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows to seal all air leaks.
Insulation may cost a bit of your budget but it is worth all the savings you will get from lower energy bills throughout the year as insulation can also help keep your house warm during winter.
Install reflective barriers by using light colours as house paint. Dark paint colours absorb 70 to 90 per cent heat.
Another way to reflect heat is to install a radiant barrier these are foil-faced paper attached on the underside of the roof.
Shading is the simplest and most effective way to block the sun’s heat. You can achieve this through landscaping, by using drapes and blinds and by using shade screens.
Use trees, vines and shrubs to shade your house. You will even save a lot from your electric bill this way, just make sure they do not block the airflow.
If you do not have enough space to plant trees, you can place plants in jars and cans and put them strategically on windowsills or hang them.
For drapes, choose those with light coloured fabrics and make sure they are attached as close to the wall as possible.
Blinds may not be as effective as drapes but they can be handy if you want some light to flow in. Just be sure the more reflective side of the blind is facing out the window.
Lastly, you may also try using shade screens. These are lightweight, durable, and easy to install material that you place outside a window directly facing the sun.
Shade screens, also known as “sun screens”, “shade cloths”, and “solar shields,” are made to block 50 to 90 percent of the energy coming in from outside of the window.
Release and Cool
Strategically open your windows.
If outside temperature is too hot, opening your window is just inviting that hot air to come in.
If you do not like the feeling of being closed in, open windows opposite the direction of the sun (open windows facing west in the morning and windows facing east late in the afternoon).
Add roof vents or ridge vents to help hot air move out of the house. Remember that hot air moves up so all that warm air will move towards the roof or ridge vent.
Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans uses less electricity than other fans and therefore save your money and releases less carbon. There are even ceiling fan models available with reverse rotation to pull warm air down during winter.
Use window fans when temperature reaches 77 degrees. Make sure the fan is on the downwind side with blades directing air outwards. Open windows strategically and make sure all doors in the house are open to improve the airflow.
Lastly, use programmable thermostats so you can control when you need to make your house cool or warm so you do not have to operate it when you are sleeping or out of the house.
Reduce Heat Sources
Sometimes additional heat comes from the things we use in the house:
These lights use just 5% of energy and releases 95% as heat! If you have not already, switch to energy efficient LED bulbs.
Lamps and TV
Put these away from your thermostat so that the heat they generate will not cause your AC to run longer.
Microwave, barbeque and pressure cooker
On very hot days, avoid using the stove or the oven to cook food. Use alternatives like the microwave that generates almost no heat and is much more energy efficient.
A pressure cooker generates less interior heat while barbecue needs to be cooked outside and not indoors.
Clothes dryer, cooking pots and bare dirt floor
These three appliances may add humidity inside your house. Reduce it by simply facing the dryer vent outside, covering pots while cooking and covering bare dirt with plastic. Using exhaust fans in areas like your kitchen and bathroom will also help.
By reducing humidity in your homes, you do not only save electricity but also lower the heat.
Washing machines require a lot of electricity and produce a lot of heat and humidity. Schedule your laundry in the morning or evening when it is not too hot. Seal off your laundry room or vent the hot air outside.
Dry your clothes on clothesline instead of using the dryer, it is summer anyway.
Also, schedule your ironing on cooler times within the day.
Wash dishes on full loads to lessen the heat coming from the dishwasher during drying cycle.
Your water heater may be great during those cold days but it adds to the heat in the house during hot summer months. Insulate your water heater with a water heater blanket.
Hot water circulating pump
If you have one, turn it off every summer.
Close gas supply to fireplaces and heaters
It is hot; you do not need them yet. Turning those off until sometime in the fall will increase cooler air in your homes dramatically.
The El Nino phenomenon affects everyone in the world.
We may not have a direct control over El Nino and how it will affect us but we can try to adapt in our own little ways.
We can fight the heat and still be conscious of our carbon footprint.
Special thanks to CG&S Design-Build for the main image.