Keeping Cool in Summer

Smarter cooling systems and home features can reduce our cooling needs and the costs that go with them. The first step in keeping cool is to prevent heat from entering the house. It is far easier to prevent heat from building up indoors than trying to remove the heat once it has developed inside a house.

In many of Australia's climate regions, a well-designed house
can eliminate the need for an airconditioner altogether.

Keeping the heat out

  • Exterior shading, using eaves or a veranda, exterior blinds and awnings, removable shade clothes/sails and shade trees or vine-covered pergolas, can go a long way towards keeping out the heat.
  • Curtains and interior blinds, perhaps with reflective backings, can also help, but they do allow a thin layer of hot air to build up between the window and the window dressing.
  • As well as keeping heat inside in winter, insulation can also keep it out in summer.
  • Dishwashers, incandescent lights, halogen downlights and cooking equipment all produce heat and can raise the temperature indoors. Where possible, time the use of such items to cooler times of day and change to energy efficient lighting alternatives.
  • Cooling methods

  • Fans and ventilation - Air movement provided by fans and/or cross ventilation can help to keep a house cool. Electric fans have the lowest running costs of cooling devices, while capturing breezes is free.
  • Evaporative cooling - Evaporative cooling works by drawing in hot air from outside through a water-moistened filter. The air is cooled as it evaporates the water in the filter. Note that evaporative coolers are only effective in dry climates. They have lower running costs than airconditioners.
  • Airconditioning - Refrigerated airconditioners work by taking the heat from the indoor air and shifting it outside. They also remove the moisture. Airconditioners have the greatest capacity to cool air but also have the highest energy use, running costs and purchase price.
  • If an airconditioner is the only option that will meet
    your needs, look for models that have inverter technology and that don't use halo-fluorocarbon refrigerants, as halo-fluorocarbons are greenhouse gases that typically have extremely high global warming potentials.

    A guide to choosing cooling systems is included in Tanya Ha's books Greeniology and The Australian Green Consumer Guide.