When the summer is on the way, it’s time to start thinking about how you can keep your home cool. In most Indian cities, power outages are common during the summer months, so it’s advisable to have a few strategies in place to combat the heat without being dependent on air-conditioning. Since a lot of time will be spent indoors, it’s important to take measures for keeping the house cool in the extreme heat. Of course, it helps if at the initial stages of building a house, you work with your interior architect to incorporate sustainable elements to keep the house cool naturally.
However, don’t worry if you haven’t done this! At homify, we have put together tips on how to keep rooms cool on a hot day. Some of these ideas even help to cool the house, without contributing to the carbon footprint.
One of the best ways to keep the house cool in summer naturally is to cross-ventilate, so that the hot air can get flushed out of the rooms and bring in the cooler air. However, it’s advisable to use windows to cross-ventilate in the early mornings and evenings, when the outdoor air is cooler and doesn’t come in to add to the sweltering heat inside your house.
When you are building your house, design rooms with windows on adjacent or opposite walls so that you can cross-ventilate the rooms in summer.
Plants can act as natural air-conditioning to keep your house cool in summer. Position tall plants near the windows so that they screen the room from direct sunlight. Similarly, when you are planning your garden, work with the landscape architect to grow creepers and vines over the porch or the balcony railing as this will help to keep the house cool naturally.
Additionally, you can grow shade trees or plants with thick foliage outside the east and west-facing windows to act as natural window coverings to keep the sun out. Placing planter boxes on the window ledges is another great idea as they will help to humidify and cool down the air entering the house.
If you have a terrace in your house, design a lush garden on it to keep the rooms below cooler during summer. The shade of the plants as well as the water in the soil will reduce the temperature indoors considerably.
While you need to protect your rooms from getting heated by the sun's rays, when you choose fabrics for curtains, it’s essential that you pick the right material. Rather than thick fabric that not only keeps out the light but also the wind, opt for thin cotton fabric or sheers. If you are wondering what to put on the windows to keep the heat out, natural materials such as jute or bamboo screens are wonderful choices as they allow the air to circulate freely. If you have bamboo screens, you can spray them with water to cool the air entering the room.
Remember to keep your curtains closed during the day to prevent heat waves from entering your rooms. Open them only after sun down.
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The wrong kind of fabric can make you feel warmer inside the house, so if you have faux-leather on the sofas or satin bedsheets, it’s time to change them. If you don’t want to reupholster the sofas, get custom-made cotton covers that can be placed over them during summer. Invest in a few cotton bedsheets in light colours, which will help you to sleep more comfortably in the warm weather.
If you still have silk cushions and woollen rugs that you used to keep the space warm in winter, it’s time to replace them with natural fibre rugs and cotton cushion covers that breathe better in the heat.
If you are still using incandescent bulbs in your home, it’s time to replace them with LED or fluorescent bulbs that don’t generate heat. Switch off the lights when they are not in use, as they can increase the temperature inside the room.
Consult an interior designer to get help on installing modern lighting systems in your house that keep the indoor temperature pleasant.
Many houses have rooms located under the terrace or balcony. These get heated during the day due to the roof being exposed to direct sunlight. An idea for keeping the room cool without depending upon air-conditioning is to install reflective tiles on the floor of the terrace or balcony. This will prevent the tiles from absorbing the heat and keep the room below the terrace a few degrees cooler.
Another alternative is to paint the floor of the terrace with white lime as it will reflect the sun’s rays. However, this comes with the disadvantage of the coating washing away in the rains, requiring you to repaint it before the next summer.
Electronic and electrical appliances generate heat when they work, so although you might not realise it, they can increase the temperature indoors. You can help to reduce their impact on the heat by switching off appliances when they are not in use. Invest in smart power strips that automatically power off appliances when they have been idle for a specified time.
Although you will be tempted to open the refrigerator many times in the day for a glass of cold water, remember that this will increase the load on the appliance, causing additional heat to be generated by the motor to keep the temperature stable. Once you take out a bottle of cold water, store it in a thermal flask so that you don’t have to open the fridge every time need a cool drink.
Similarly, try to use other appliances such as the washing machine, dishwasher, stove and oven during the cooler parts of the day so that the heat generated by them doesn’t add to the stifling temperature indoors.
Clearing the clutter in your rooms not only helps in bringing positive energy, as per the practices of Feng Shui and Vastu, but also makes the rooms airier so that the breeze can flow freely through them. Make sure that nothing blocks the air from the fan or the windows.
Get easy tips on how to manage the clutter at home.9. D-I-Y air cooler
If you want a more sustainable alternative to air coolers and air-conditioners, get an extra table fan for your room. Place a bowl of ice in front of the fan so that the air flowing from it is chilled. Once the ice melts, the cold water will continue to cool the room, although at a slower pace.
Most Indian homes have ceiling fans, but if necessary, don’t hesitate to use an extra one, either a pedestal fan or a table top one. If you are looking for tip on how to cool down a room fast without air-conditioning, then using two fans will do the trick. It’s especially useful for large rooms.
Place the second fan in a spot where it will help to maximise the ventilation in the room. Try to create a wind-tunnel effect so that the room cools down fast.