Staying Cool in Summer – House Edition

With summer sun comes the battle to keep your house cool. For those of us with a brick facade, the heat-retention properties of the material start to work against us. If you don’t have good insulation, westerly facing walls transfer all that heat inside, soon making it uncomfortable, and difficult to keep cool. Using air-con to fight against this radiant heat is inefficient at best, and useless at worst.

So what’s the solution?

If you’re an owner-occupier, you could install insulation (roof and wall), and sun blinds on the outside of your house so that the heat is largely repelled before it enters. But both of those options are expensive, and unavailable to renters unless they’re already installed.

Keeping the blinds closed (preferably heavy blockout drapes) through the worst of the day is an excellent step to take if you don’t have the outside options.

One low-tech solution is to hang a large sheet of shade cloth, that is wider than the window so that it covers a lot of the bricks too, from the roof. We only leave it up for the hotter months, and it is removable for winter.

It may not be the prettiest solution, and you certainly need to consider your own situation and safety, to determine if it’s something you could do. But anecdotally, the difference between having it and not, is stark.

On the most recent day of 44 degrees, the house stayed at a very pleasant 25 degrees all day until 4pm, without any cooling at all, and only reached the high 20s around bedtime, at which point we put on the evaporative cooler and in a very short time it had brought the house back to a very comfortable temperature.

The difference can also be felt by touching the bricks outside in sun compared to behind the shade cloth – burning hot vs. warm.

It’s not a solution for everyone, and obviously safety comes first, but do consider it as a cheap and effective way of reducing your cooling requirements this summer.