With last year in the top five hottest years on record, it’s about time to figure out some cooling for your home that’s going to preserve the environment – and your wallet! While air conditioning may seem the most obvious choice, and many of us are begging for a great ducted system on those 40°+ February days, there are a number of options for effectively keeping nice and cool.
Be summer ready with Plumber & Electrician To The Rescue’s top 5 tips for a cooling down!
Fans are the most energy efficient appliance for cooling a home. A South Australian survey rates the average fan as costing two to three cents per hour in running costs. Piddling! Considering a refrigerative air conditioning system can cost upwards of thirty to forty cents for the same amount of running time, you’d be mad not to invest in some quality ceiling or pedestal fans.
Yes, we know, fans don’t actually cool a house. Fans move air around which promotes the evaporation of sweat and humidity – leaving you feeling cooler. But, hey, so long as you and your family are comfortable, what’s the worry?
For a cheap, almost carbon neutral “on the go” fix for those really hot nights, try setting up a cool, damp towel in a window – combined with a fan to move air that has been cooled by the window through the room.
The most energy efficient cooling is passive cooling. Passive cooling is any cooling system which relies on the environment, built or otherwise of your house, without being rooted in an electric system such as fans or air conditioning.
Shade the sides of your house which face the most sun: in Australia, this will be the north, west and east side of the house. In the first half and latter half of the day, the east and west are most important, and during the middle of the day the north shading will protect against midday sun.
Seal your windows and doors properly. Be sure that there are no leakages that could allow warm air in, or cool air to escape your house. Look out for other gaps! Common sealing problems include windowsills and doorframes, as well as older brickwork.
Blinds with a white, reflective side facing the sun can make a great difference in window heat absorption, too. The white surface reflects light and heat, unlike darker colours which will absorb it. Ever notice that black cars seem warmer in summer? Consider your home’s colour scheme and how you can cool it just with the power of reflection!
The best long term solution for cooling your home is quality insulation. Good quality insulation will preserve cool environments inside the house by stopping hot air entering, and trapping cool air. Not only will this keep your home cool in summer, it will keep your home warm in winter! High quality insulation is a valuable, long-term investment that can seriously improve your standard of living
Choosing an air conditioning system, when all else fails, is dependent on a number of factors. Not least is the quality of your insulation – and the size of the area you’re seeking to cool. Evaporative coolers are generally energy and water friendly – but aren’t the best option for a humid environment. If your home is generally dryer than it is humid, consider an evaporative system as a viable option.
Otherwise, a refrigerative air conditioning system might be a better bet. These systems rely on cycles, sucking in warm air and cooling it before releasing it back into the wild. There are a few types of refrigerative systems – each with different kinds of compressor technology. Inverter and digital scroll compressor systems are more environmentally and energy friendly than standard systems, using only the amount of energy or cooling required to reach a specific temperature.
Run the thermostat as high as you can comfortably, and you’ll save big bucks on your energy bill, and be saving the environment! Every 1° lower than 24°-27°, the usual comfortable temperature, adds 10% to your running costs!
Also consider the fact that when cooling a large area, you’re going to be using more energy. Consider which rooms require the most cooling during the hottest parts of the day – these might be a home office, kitchen or living room – and make these the priority. Closing doors and “zoning” air conditioning into these areas is paramount for energy efficient air conditioning.
There’s a number of relatively simple tricks to keeping cool in the hottest part of the day, with or without a cooling system. While these are usually reliant on water, many are energy efficient and can ensure that you’re not wasting your dough on electricity usage unless absolutely necessary!
Cool, damp cloths placed on the forehead, wrist or over the back of the neck can be a great way to cool down quickly. The cool water chills blood flowing through these major vessel clusters, leaving you cool and refreshed.
Obviously, drinking cool water can help – but did you know that so can a cup of black tea? One study at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics suggests that warm drinks activate sweat by attaching to “thermosensors” in the throat and mouth, and when sweat can evaporate, the cooling effect is fantastic.
There’s no way of putting this more simply: on those horrid 40°+ days, take it easy. Avoid any excess physical exertion, and be sure to drink plenty of cool (or, as we now know, warm) fluids. Sports drinks, heavily caffeinated beverages and anything else that’s going to actually dehydrate rather than hydrate you should be avoided; as should staying in the sun too long!