> Keeping your home Cool in Summer or Warm in Winter for free! - Page 2

The 3rd trick - create Cross Ventilation

Cross ventilation is simply being able to set your property up so that the prevailing winds on your site can be easily used to move air through your property. This is done by placing windows so that the wind can blow through them on opposite walls in a room or building, rather than on adjacent walls (i.e. you want to minimize the resistance to the movement of air through the space).This combined with the ability to close off sections of the property which you don't use (and hence do not need ventilation) can be very effective in quickly cooling the rooms you do use.

An enhancement to this is on the side that the winds 'blow' from add shade - this way air that was in shade (and hence cooler) gets blown into your house - so making you cooler. Trees are ideal for this.

Also cross ventilation can make it easier to help heat a home in Winter; i.e. if the Winter day is considerably warmer than the night, having good cross ventilation will allow you to open the windows and easily heat up your house during the day.

The 4th trick - use ceiling fans

Fans are often forgotten about, but can be very effective. The fact they keep moving air 'plays' with your perception of temperature by aiding heat loss off your skin - in effect it 'blows' the heat off you! Also ceiling fans in winter can be set to run the other way, so helping in keeping warm air near to you. The good thing with ceiling fans is that they take up no floor space and are considerably safer than a floor mounted fan (thinking of little fingers here).

A ceiling fan, properly set up, can make the room feel as much as 7 degrees cooler than it actually is, for a few dollars a month running costs..

The 5th trick - add wall insulation

Wall insulation helps stop the internal temperature interacting with the external environmental temperature. This makes it cheaper to keep cool in Summer and warm in winter as a greater temperature difference can be maintained for the same effort (i.e. cost). Usual ways of having a higher insulation rated wall include:
  • Old fashioned cavity wall; i.e. two brick walls with an internal air gap in them.
  • Brick veneer; i.e. an outer brick wall with an inner wood based wall. The insulation is usually 'sandwiched' behind the inner wall.
  • Thermalite block construction - basically building with big bricks with an inner layer of insulation.
  • Aerated Concrete Blocks - basically blocks made out of 'foamed' concrete, so has a higher level of insulation than normal concrete blocks but rather more fragile & not as strong, so special construction techniques need to be employed.
  • Cavity wall insulation - basically a cavity wall with an insulating foam injected into the air gap. This improves the insulation properties but care needs to be taken to not 'bridge' the damp proofing properties of the gap.
  • Straw-bale wall construction - this is basically building the walls using straw-bales with rendering. The straw-bales provide a high degree of insulation but very little construction strength.

The 6th trick - add roof insulation

More often than not, a roof space in summer turns into a furnace - without suitable roof insulation on top of the ceiling space below the heat will transmit down into the living space or it will prevent heat escaping up and out. So very quickly the living space will heat up in response. Classic sign of this that the property around midday on a hot day will suddenly go into 'furnace mode' as the heat from above and outside conspire to overheat the living space; then no matter what you do you can't get the temperature back down.

So to avoid overheating in summer and being too cold in winter make sure you fit good quality roof bats (insulation). Look for ideally insulation rated to R4.0, this will exceed the minimal required by the Australian standards, but it will ensure you are getting the best benefit from having the insulation in place. Combine this with some form of roof space ventilation and you should be set, see here for examples.

Insulation Grants in Australia

Please do make sure you do the following when cashing in the insulation grants:
  • Do check the installers credentials and ask for at least 3 references. Why? Well given the current market conditions and sudden demand for the installation of roof insulation; a lot of potential 'cowboys' are thinking it is easy money to put in a few batts and be done with it..
  • Do make sure that light fittings, like down lights, are not 'buried' under the insulation - these things have a tendency to get very hot and if surrounded by insulation are likely to catch fire! You can get metal surrounds for the down-lights to always provide a safe distance.
  • Also do look at putting in a roof vent at the same time - this will avoid the roof space over heating and provide useful ventilation to avoid damp.

The 7th trick - stop window heat transmission

Windows, as well as letting light in, also act as quite good heat or cold 'conductors' with the outside world. Both the glass and the frame of most windows readily conduct heat. Therefore you need to block or reduce this heat transfer into your living space if it proves to be a problem (which may not be the case if you have done all of the above). To be effective you need good quality thick curtains and a pelmet to stop the air cycling across the window by putting it in its own still blanket of air. The curtain needs to span the whole window and be tight in to the wall and go all the way down to the floor to stop the air cycling. Still air so 'trapped' will stop the heat or cold making its way into the property. Also the still air in itself will provide a degree of insulation.

Another good way to stop the heat getting in during Summer is to have white roller blinds (or near to white as you can put up with). This way the heat of the sunlight is reflected back out the window during summer. Roller blinds also prevent some of the cold coming in during Winter, but as not as good as a proper curtain.

The combination of full curtain and roller blind are particularly good for bedrooms, in that when the blind is down and the curtain closed, the room is completely blacked out and largely sound proofed from the outside world. Great for a good nights sleep! Also the roller blind is great for providing privacy whilst allowing some light in.

Another option, if you are building or renovating, is to use what are termed 'thermal break' window frames. These are windows frames where a low heat conducting material is placed in the middle of the frame all the way round, this stops the metal frame acting as a heat conductor between the inside and outside. Although only consider this is you do not want to use the curtain and pelmet method, or you live in somewhere very cold, as it is unlikely you will recover the cost outlay in savings made.

Another option, if you want to avoid changing window fittings is to use a UV blocking window film. These come in a variety of shades, from nearly clear to very silvered. It pays to shop around for these and not 'skimp' as you want a film which will last. An added benefit is that the film will also help ensure privacy as from the outside the inside will appear darkened.

Related Tags: heating, cooling, heating costs, passive solar, solar cycle, thermal mass, cross ventilation, ceiling fans, roof insulation, air conditioning, straw-bale, climate change, housing energy efficiency,

Related Listings: Efficient Cooling, Insulation, Green Architects

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