Nine ways to keep your cool this summer
Staying comfortably fresh during the hottest months of the year is a challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of low-cost and no-cost strategies to take the edge off high temperatures in the home and get the most out of your cooling appliances.
1. Time opening and closing of windows
The coolest part of the day is about 30 to 60 minutes after sunrise, so keep your windows open to let in natural breezes as much as possible during the night and until about an hour after sunrise. Then it’s time to close up, extend the awnings and draw the blinds for most of the day.
“In the evening, or when the cool change hits, open your doors and windows to let the heat escape and the cool breeze in,” says Ben Cirulis of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
2. Pay attention to the direction of prevailing winds
Open windows on that side of the house when the breeze blows but also on the opposite side of the house. This will encourage maximum air movement, pulling hot air out of the building and circulating fresh, cool air.
3. Shade the windows
The majority of heat is likely to enter your home through glazing, but effective shade solutions can cut up to 90 per cent of the heat transmitted by direct sunlight. When deciding on the location of shade sails and fixed structures to provide shade, position these features so they don’t obstruct sunlight late in the day when the sun is closer to the horizon.
Outdoor blinds and retractable awnings can provide shade when required, while letting in full sun during cooler times.
4. Add window treatments
“A close-fitting, insulating window treatment like cellular or block-out blinds and heavy curtains on the inside of the window is also a good idea, and can help keep warmth inside during winter,” says Ben Cirulis. “Consider a pelmet too, to help reduce air movement behind the curtain.”
5. Check your fan mode
Make sure your ceiling fans aren’t in ‘winter’ mode when the hot weather kicks in! “In ‘winter’ mode, the fan blows air upwards to help circulate warmer air that has risen in the room,” explains Tanya Gatti of Arlec. “In ‘summer’ mode, a ceiling fan pushes air down, helping evaporate any perspiration on your skin, which creates a cooling effect in a similar way to an evaporative cooler.
6. Consider an evaporative cooler
“An evaporative cooler brings down the air temperature by allowing a fresh water supply to evaporate into dry air,” says Tanya. “The energy required to evaporate the water is taken from the air, cooling it down.” A refrigerated system such as an air conditioner uses considerable power to run a compressor, but “an evaporative cooling system only needs electricity for its fan and water pump, so uses significantly less power,” explains Tanya.
7. Make your air conditioner more cost effective
“The most common mistake people make is having the temperature on the air conditioner set too low,” explains Ben. “Increasing the temperature setting by just 1°C can mean 10 per cent energy saved.”
8. Plant shade plants
Greenery around your home does more than just look pretty. “Water enters the air through transpiration from vegetation, and evaporation from the ground and water bodies. This combined process is called evapotranspiration,” says Karen Player of Australian Environmental Education. “By planting trees and other vegetation, you can lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade, as well as cooling through evapotranspiration.”
Deciduous trees provide natural shade in summer and let in light in winter. Do check labels for full-grown size and don’t plant too close to the house.
9. Don’t forget your indoor greenery
“Research has shown that indoor plants can also help inside your home as they lose water through transpiration, which cools the air around them,” says Karen. The high percentage of moisture in the leaves of aloe vera increases its transpiration rate. Boston fern, weeping fig and spider plant are other popular varieties that cool and purify the air.
Make sure you choose the right fan for your home
Take a look at our buying guide to ceiling fans for a helping hand.
Photo credit: Brigid Arnott
Health & Safety
Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.
Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety
page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.