As we swelter through another heat wave, we thought it would be a good time to look at ways we can keep our homes cool as things heat up.
The majority of Australians own air conditioners with 74% of all homes having at least one and the number one driver of increased electricity demand during heat waves is air conditioners.
Before you set your air conditioner to arctic blast though, there are things you can do in the home to help keep things cool and your energy bill and carbon footprint down.
Here are our top tips:
Open and Close Windows at the Right Times
Shut windows and close blinds and curtains first thing in the morning before it starts to get hotter outside.
Open the windows as it gets cooler in the evening to let the cooler air flow into the house. Only do this though when the temperature outside is cooler than inside.
Upgrade your Curtains and Blinds
Good quality blinds or “block-out” curtains are very effective in blocking out direct sunlight and heat and this can make a huge difference to the overall air temperature inside, especially if you have a lot of windows.
Invest in Good Ceiling Fans
Fans are a good choice to be used it the first instance to cool your home as they use much less energy than an air conditioner. Don’t forget to turn the fan off as you leave the room as they are only effective when you’re in the room to feel the cooling.
There is a huge range of stylish and energy efficient fans that provide premium airflow on the market. If you have an al fresco area think about adding a fan or two there to keep you comfortable as you entertain in the summer months.
Tip: It matters which way your fans spin! An anti-clockwise spin pushes hot air up which will cool you down. The opposite will do the reverse. So in winter, if your fans have the functionality, switch it to spin clockwise which will push the warmer air down.
Seal Doors and Windows
Sealing the gaps around windows and doors will stop the warm air sneaking in and the cool air drifting out. Weather strips are an easy way to seal the gaps and are easy to fit being self-adhesive and simple to cut to length to fit around your doors and windows.
Turn Stuff Off
Turn off your electronics if you’re not using them as computers, TV’s etc can generate quite a bit of heat when idle or even when turned off so unplug devices at the wall when not in use.
Turn off lights you don’t need as they can give out a small amount of heat and if you’re in the middle of a heat wave every bit of extra heat adds up and makes a difference.
Don’t run appliances like the dishwasher or washing machine during the day, save these activities for night when it’s a bit cooler.
These things may not make a huge difference to the temperature, but every little bit helps and it will certainly help the electricity bill!
Insulation is great for keeping your home cool in summer and warm in winter and can help you save on your energy bills. There are lots of different types of insulation for ceilings, walls and underfloor and can often be retro-fitted in homes without it. You can install it yourself or have someone do it for you but it’s a good long term investment and well worth considering.
Set your Air-Conditioner to Reduce Running Costs
If you do use your air conditioning, it’s recommended to set a temperature between 23c and 26c rather than 18c to 20c. Keeping the thermostat set at these levels could save you 15% of the running costs of the air conditioner. Also, if you are able, it is wise to zone your cooling to where you spend the most time rather than cooling the whole home.
Add Shade Sails
Shade sails can block up to 95% of the sun’s harmful rays and can lower the temperature beneath and the great thing about them is that you can install them practically anywhere to create protected areas. Use them to keep your home cooler by installing them over patios, entrances and driveways. As they are not a permanent fixture they can be easily removed when they are not needed.
Use Outdoor Blinds
Like shade sails these too can keep sunlight and heat from entering your home. There are many different options available, roll-up blinds, retractable blinds, awnings and motorised shutters, that can be fitted to the outside of the windows to block the heat.
Plant Shade Trees and Other Greenery
Plants are a fantastic way to minimise heat coming through your windows. Find windows that are in direct sunlight during the day and plant shade trees just outside them. If you don’t have garden beds outside these windows, think about using trees in pots for the same effect. In a climate like Orange where good winter sun in sought to help warm a house plant trees that will lose their leaves in Autumn so the trees are of benefit all year-round.
Fire Up the BBQ
Consider cooking your evening meal outside on the BBQ because who really wants to slave away over a hot stove in the kitchen! Using the stove and oven can add to the temperature indoors so why not head outside for a yummy summer BBQ as a fun way to beat the heat. Don’t forget the Aerogard!
When all else fails and the heat becomes too much head out to the local pool for a refreshing swim or seek out those air conditioned places for some respite. Go see a movie, do some shopping or have a leisurely dinner at a restaurant.