Can you take the heat?

It has certainly been a hot Summer. How has your property been coping?


If the answer is ‘not so well’ there’s no time like the present to check these ideas on how to keep your property cool, through this summer and the next.

1.     Shade where you need it

Well-designed houses have eaves on the north that are wide enough to shade windows from the high-set sun. They also have shading on the east and west, however, as the sun is lower when it is coming from these directions, eaves alone are not enough. Look for options that don’t block the sun permanently – anything from deciduous trees, shrubs and vines to moveable screens and blinds can help to block out the low sun, but keep the cooler months in mind.

2.     Ceiling fans

One of the cheapest investments you can make to cut your cooling costs is ceiling fans. They cost very little to run but can make you feel a lot cooler and reduce your reliance an air-conditioning.

3.     Roof ventilators

There are some clever roof ventilators on the market now that expel hot air from the roof space in the day and draw cool air into the home at night.

4.     Cool the house overnight

Remembering to open the property up at night to let the cool night air in is essential to cutting your power bills. It’s free and takes minimal effort. Install window locks so you can lock them part of the way open overnight.

5.     Insulation

With the temperature extremes Australia faces, insulation is an absolute must. at whether you have adequate levels and need to top it up.

6.     Seal up gaps

On hot days the best thing you can do is shut your home up early to keep out the heat to delay or avoid using an air-conditioner. Check for gaps around windows and doors, and to consider installing thick curtains or insulating honeycomb blinds that can be kept drawn on warmer days to ward off the heat, especially if you are heading off to work and therefore won’t be bothered by the house being kept dark.

7.     Airconditioning

There’s plenty you can do with your airconditioner to make sure it is running efficiently. Keep it serviced, and try to run it at about 25 degrees or more. Every degree warmer you run your air-conditioner in summer is estimated to cut 10 per cent from the cost of running it. In hot, dry climates, there’s the option of evaporative airconditioning, which guzzle a lot less energy than their refrigerated counterparts.

8.     Double glazing/low-e coating

If you are installing new windows or doors, it is well worth investigating ways of making them more thermally efficient. You’ll need to look at both the materials used in the window or door frame, as well as the glass within it – including its thickness, whether you will opt for double-glazing, and whether to have a low-emissivity coating.

9.     Take heat outdoors

Try to barbecue or cook outside to reduce the heat load being created in your home.  A decent exhaust fan in the kitchen will help to move the hot air out of the home faster. Look for one that vents externally.

10.Take a look at your garden.

Outdoor paving and cement can store heat, making it harder for your house to cool down at the end of the day.  Consider ways to shade them from the sun with plants, shade sails or umbrellas. Even better, landscape with plants including native grasses and ground covers.

Advice summarised from a column by Carolyn Boyd in Domain, October 16 2012.