Design Secrets – Keeping your home cool in summer

Keeping your home cool in summer without the use of air-conditioning is a sought-after requirement of most Queensland homeowners. With rising electricity prices, finding ingenious methods to reduce your need for artificial cooling may be at the top of your list this summer.

Often when we talk about designing a new home or renovation, we discuss the merits of making the most of the natural elements. Typically the number one natural element we consider in South East Queensland home designs is that of cool summer breezes.

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But how exactly do you take advantage of this form of natural cooling?

Well to better understand this, we need to know how air-flow works.

If you take an empty milk bottle and blow into the spout, you will feel the air blowing back against your face. The reason for this is due to the air already inside the milk bottle. This air forms a barrier against the air that you’re trying to blow in. Just inside the milk bottle air will be circulating, but further towards the back of the bottle, there will be very little air movement at all.

You may have already experienced this phenomenon in your own home, where you open a window and instantly feel the beautifully refreshing cool breeze. The further you move away from the window, however, the less effect that breeze has.

What happens if you put a hole in the bottom or side of the milk bottle? If you add this additional hole, you will feel the breeze from your breath pushing out the air that was already inside the bottle. The result – a nice cooling flow of air can now pass through the entire bottle.

Breaking down the barriers

Based on this simple example, you may think that the solution is to open a door or window at the other end of your house. And while that may work in some instances, for other homes the chances are that it won’t. So why doesn’t this work?

Well, in the milk bottle example the bottle itself is an empty vessel. It is completely hollow. Once you put a hole in the bottom of the bottle the air moving in from your mouth can pass straight through. But in the average home, there are walls and furnishings which impede the natural flow of air. Airflow is impeded when a breeze coming through an open window runs straight into a right angle wall as the airflow is stopped in its tracks.

Sometimes simple modifications can make a dramatic impact on the comfort levels throughout the home in summer. By understanding the direction from which the cooling breezes predominantly approach, as well as knowing how to allow this flow of air to move unimpeded throughout your home, it is possible to dramatically cool any property naturally.

Don’t box the air in

From the above example, you can now begin to see how design influences the liveability of a home. Choosing to work with an architect when making important design decisions for your new home or renovation project can potentially save you a fortune over the life of your home.

Keeping your home cool in summer can be achieved by using angled walls and considering the possibility of curves in key areas. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your entire house needs to have curved or angled walls. You can improve the airflow inside the home by allowing the breezes to freely move throughout your home. Utilising louvred windows you can permit hot air to escape the confines of individual rooms. Consider the location of the louvres to ensure incoming breezes can circulate around and within the space. Crossflow ventilation is also advantageous provided the movement of air is not impeded by excess furniture. Allowing the air inside your home to circulate through the addition of an incoming breeze will provide a cooling effect.

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Can airflow be improved?

Size and position of your block, together with any buildings, foliage or other structures that may surround your home will impact the ability of airflow to enter your home.

When assessing the best way to increase airflow we firstly consider the direction that cooling summer breezes predominantly come from. We then look at the parts of your home that these cool breezes collide with and consider the following:

  • Are there obstacles blocking the breeze from entering your home, such as walls, trees or other obstructions?
  • Can doorways or windows be opened to capture this breeze?
  • Are the openings large enough to capture this breeze?
  • What reasons are there for not opening these windows/doorways (e.g. security, noise levels etc)?
  • Upon opening your doors or windows how far into your home will the breeze penetrate? In other words, will the breeze immediately hit a wall at right angles, therefore lessening its effectiveness, or is it able to travel some distance throughout a number of rooms?
  • Can this air escape? If the flow of air is simply trapped and can’t escape, then you will not get a true ‘flow’ of air throughout your home.

Keeping your home cool in summer

So these are the secrets to keeping your home cool in summer. It is all about coordinating natural cooling and your lifestyle through the process of design to ensure complete liveability. It is a wise investment to ensure the design completely suits your lifestyle while still taking advantage of the natural elements.

Sustainable architectural design can potentially save a homeowner hundreds of dollars every year in electricity savings alone. So if you are looking to harness mother natures’ breezes and tune into the effects of natural cooling to improve your lifestyle this summer, make sure your renovation or new home design helps you achieve your liveability goals. To find out more about Sustainable Architectural design, call us today and find out how we can help you – 07 3899 9450.

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