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Staying cool

The heat wave of summer has come early this year and has been one of the hottest in history! Hundreds of people have already fallen ill or died from heat related health issues. We have learned that people used to stay cool in their houses by considering the science of air movement when building houses and communities (Getting Shelter-ed, February 2006).

By using low and high pressure systems within their homes, they could do without air conditioners. Mud was also a common building material because of its ability to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But many of these traditional building techniques and materials are no longer used. And, unfortunately, we aren’t ready to tear down our houses and rebuild with mud. So what can we do to keep cool and stay healthy during these hot summer months? Read on...

  • Trees planted outside the south and east facing windows will help block direct sunlight from entering and heating your house. Deciduous trees will lose their leaves in the winter allowing the sunlight to reach your house and help keep it warm during the cold winter months.
  • Closing blinds or drawing curtains on windows that receive direct sunlight during the day will help cut back on the amount of heat entering the house. Light coloured curtains will reflect more heat away from your house than dark coloured ones.
  • Tinting your windows with reflective films will help cut down on heat, but will also reflect heat in the winter time when you might want it.
  • Awnings and trellises can help shade windows, rooms and even one whole side of your house.
  • An area with plants and/or grass outside the house, separating it from the street, will help decrease the temperature. Concrete and asphalt radiate a lot more heat than plants and soil, even after the sun has gone down.
  • Get your community involved in planting trees. The more trees there are to shade your neighbourhood, the cooler everyone will be. Daytime temperatures have been found to be 1.5 to 3.5 degrees cooler in tree shaded neighbourhoods.
  • Paint your house. Light colours reflect more heat than dark colours, painting your house white will reflect more heat from the whole house.
  • Make sure your house is well insulated. A well-insulated house keeps the hot air in during winter and the cool air in during summer.
  • Make sure gaps under doors and around windows are sealed and holes in walls are patched. Weather stripping and caulking will stop your cool air from escaping.
  • Shading the area around your air conditioner compressor will help it run more efficiently, cutting down on your electric bill.
  • Turning off your computer monitor, TV, and DVD player while they are not in use will cut down on the amount of heat being produced inside.
  • Use a ceiling fan to keep air moving. Air movement of just one mph will make you feel two or three degrees cooler.

     I hope some of these tips will not only keep your house cooler but help you cut down on your electricity bills!     


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Staying cool