Sustainable Life: Seven tips for a cooler home this summer | HerCanberra

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Sustainable Life: Seven tips for a cooler home this summer

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I like my home to be a sanctuary, no matter what’s going on in the world. 

During summer, I like to beat the heat by taking the kids to the pool or the National Museum of Australia for some strong air conditioning and, when it’s really hot, I wistfully imagine myself living in a beach house and make plans to truck in sand, rocks and water to my backyard.

However, what I really need is to summer-proof my home to give me a cool sanctuary, every hot summer day.

Here are my top tips for staying cool at home in summer. There are ideas to suit every budget and every type of home.

Shut up the house in the middle of the day and open everything up at night (except in smoke haze)

Let Canberra’s gorgeous overnight temperatures do the cooling for you—except when there’s worsening air conditions. The benefits are greatest if you open doors and windows to allow a cross breeze.

No breeze? Create one with a strategically placed fan that draws in the cool night air and check for air quality ratings.

Turn down the heat inside

Slow roast in the oven for dinner in summer? No thanks.

Try dinner cooked on a BBQ or the microwave to reduce the heat that you add into your home throughout the day.

Shade windows from the midday heat, especially on the western side of your home

I extended our pergola along the western side of our home and encouraged our wisteria vine to shade the last of the western facing windows.

The difference in my home’s summer temperature is incredible. Wisteria is great plant for shading your home because it’s fast-growing, impossible to kill, has lovely purple flowers in the springtime and drops its leaves in winter to let in the sunshine.

Consider using strategically placed deciduous trees and shrubs to also shade windows from the sun. Blinds, awnings or shade cloth are another option for shading windows.

Cool down a concrete patio or driveway with large pot plants

I love the lemon, lime and mandarin trees on our deck. They love the heat, as long as they’re well watered.

You can move pot plants in winter to let in the sunshine.

Seal gaps as they can be responsible for 15% of the heat that enters your home

It’s cheap to seal them, too. I sealed up our gaps for less than $20—no special experience necessary.

Check out Lish Feher’s Green It Yourself videos for easy to follow instructions.

Insulate. Insulate. Insulate.

Think about insulating the ceiling, walls and floor. As most of the heat gained into your home in the summer is from the roof, focus on this first.

For summer cooling, walls are the next priority for insulation, followed by the floor. Insulation is great because it has an impact for both winter and summer.

Keep your body cool

Think about the choices you’d make about your day if you lived in the tropics.

Exercise in the early mornings, not in the middle of the day. If you’re hot, take a short shower and feel refreshed. Take life at a slower pace.

Long live the glorious, warm summer days! May you love them. And, with a few easy upgrades, may your home be a cool sanctuary in the days when the heat outside gets too much.


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