Homes heat up for a number of reasons and there are many factors that influence how cool your home will stay during a heatwave, such as whether you have insulation, the way the home faces and the how it was constructed.
Designating summer and winter rooms or zoning off areas, are some of the smart things you can do to keep your home cooler for longer and make more efficient use of air-conditioning.
If your home is well insulated and shaded, you will be more likely to resist several days of extreme heat. Zone off parts of the house to make more efficient use of cooling system. Closing doors, windows and curtains during the heat of the day can help the house stay cooler than outside.
If overnight temperatures fall below your inside temperature, open up the house as much as possible from late afternoon to early morning.
Manage your Living Space
#1 Zone off main living space
Try to zone/close off the living space where you spend most of your time. That way, you only have to cool one room. If you live in a two-storey dwelling, remember heat rises and it may be wiser not to use upstairs rooms during heatwaves.
- Seal off external doors – Try putting a door snake along the bottom of external doors to stop hot air getting in. Remember it can be a trip hazard, so try getting a double-sided door snake that moves with the door. The door might already have a door seal, so take a look first.
- Seal off internal doors – Close internal doors to other rooms you are not using. This reduces the air flow and makes it easier to cool the rooms you are using. You can also use a door snake to seal internal doors. If you have an open plan house close as many doors as you can.
- Seal other draughts – Check windows to see if they close well or need sealing. If there are obvious draughts like a chimney or vents in the walls it would be good to try and reduce the air flow. It is best to get a professional to do this.
Try using a towel to block a window that lets a draught in.
Ideally, hire a professional who specialises in ‘energy efficiency retrofits’ who can do a thorough assessment of your home and seal all draughts with professional and high quality products.
Avoid running the oven and other appliances that produce heat.
#2 Use a fan
Air movement will make you feel cooler.Fans are cheaper to run than air conditioners and if it isn’t too hot, a fan may be all you need.
Fans cool you rather than the room, so ensure you sit/lie down where the air will flow over you. Running a fan in your bedroom overnight can help keep you cool and sleep on a hot night.
#3 Use the air conditioner
When it gets hot turn on your air conditioner. Run the air conditioner fan on high and keep the filter clean. If possible, sleep in the room where your air conditioner is when it is very hot.
#4 Draw external blinds
If you have external blinds pull them down early in the morning before the sun hits your windows. This will help reduce the amount of heat that enters your home and keep it cooler. Put the blinds up when the sun goes down to cool your home with the night breeze.
#5 Keep doors and windows closed
Keep external doors and windows closed to reduce the hot air that is entering your house. Keep internal doors closed so the space you are trying to cool is smaller. Remember to open doors and windows at night to let the cooler night breeze through.
#6 Close the curtains
Windows that get direct sunlight heat up a room. Generally, windows are a source of heat gain on hot days. Closing the curtains helps to reduce how much heat enters your house. When it cools down at night open the curtains and windows to let the night breeze cool your house.
#7 Have a plan
Think in advance about how you are going to cope in the heat, how you will keep your home cool and what home improvements you may need to make. Print a copy of the heatwave Heatwave Action Plan and stick it to your fridge as reminder of actions you can take to beat the heat.
Improve Your Home
A few simple and affordable improvements to your home can help keep it cool during summer. Simple changes will also help to keep your home warmer in winter and save you money on heating and cooling.
All of these changes can be done by purchasing simple items from the hardware store or by arranging a professional. It is important to make any home improvements before summer.
#1 External shading
Shading is the best way to stop sun from hitting your windows. Shade your sunniest windows first – these will face north and west.
- DIY blinds can be bought ‘off the shelf’ from your local hardware store in a variety of colours and sizes (blinds generally range in price from $80 to $130 each)
- Heavy duty shade cloth varieties still allow you to see outside but block out the sun
- Retractable or pulley arrangements are available
- A local handyperson could install these for you
- Ensure your blinds are installed to create maximum airflow.
Suggested Blind Installation:
#2 Draught proofing
Stopping draughts makes a huge difference to keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, as well as helping to keep your energy bills down.
- Draughts exist around doors, windows, fireplaces, vents and come through cracks
- There are many DIY low cost draught proofing products available at your local hardware store
- Alternatively, contact a professional specialising in draught proofing to do an assessment of your home and stall quality products
#3 Internal curtains and blinds
The next step is to insulate the windows from the inside.
- This can be done with blinds/curtains or removable reflective screens such as Renshade
- A pelmet, a narrow frame to conceal curtain fittings, can also make a big difference. These can be permanent or removable
A home with good insulation remains cooler for longer in comparison to homes with no insulation.
- A non-insulated roof can allow for 25 per cent of heat gain in a home compared to an insulated roof
- Ceiling insulation is the most important
- If you insulated your home a long time ago, the insulation might have moved or degraded depending on what sort of insulation it is. If you are uncertain it is worth getting someone to look at it.
#5 Other Improvements
If you can shade windows by planting trees or vines or using external shutters or blinds it will make a great difference to how quickly and how much your home heats up.