By Parinatha Sampath
Give the good ol’ air conditioner a break and cool your home with these energy-saving techniques inspired by different cooling methods used in different countries all over the world.
1. A Terrace Garden/Rooftop Garden
If you live on the higher floors of a building, the scorching summer sun can heat up the roof and seep into your apartment. But if you fill the roof up with a variety of plants, the mud in the pots absorbs the heat from the sun and acts as an insulator, thereby keeping your home cool. You can also grow plenty of plants on your balcony and stop the heat before it enters your home. Vines are especially great if you want to naturally insulate the walls of your home. People across India use this method to cool their homes.
2. Paint it White
If entire cities in Portugal – which suffers scorching summers and warm winters – can stay chilled out, so can we. White and other light-colored surfaces reflect more light than dark surfaces. So, painting your roof and home white can make your home cooler. Let’s paint the town red. No, white!
3. A Window Way, A Window Way
The lion sleeps tonight and so can you with these helpful window tips. First, ensure you keep the windows shut throughout the day, opening them only at night. Second, install awnings for your windows — especially the ones that face south or west — to keep the sunlight from directly entering the house. Third, buy double-layered blackout curtains because they help trap the cool air inside the house. If you don’t wish to block the sunlight, I’d say go the Chinese way and give your house some bamboo drapes. It helps naturally ventilate the house.
4. Ceiling and Table Fans
Most ceiling fans have two settings: clockwise and counter-clockwise. If you can feel the breeze as soon as your turn on the fan, it’s most probably spinning counter-clockwise. If not, switch it. High speeds on counter-clockwise spinning fans cool the house down in summer while low speeds on clockwise-spinning fans ensure the heat is distributed in winter.
If you don’t have ceiling fans, try out the table-fan cooling method. It’s easy, fun, and amazing. Place the fan at your window such that the it’s able to take in the air from outside and channel it inside the house. Then, take a shallow bowl filled with ice or cold water, place it in front of the fan, and turn it on. Now you have a cool breeze coming into your home!
5. Sheets and Pillows
It’s time to switch your sheets and pillows! Cotton has stood the test of time and is perfect for summer, but lyocell sheets are great too. Lyocell fibers – made from wood pulp – are eco-friendly and extremely comfortable for summer. (They’re sold under the brand name TENCEL.) To sleep blissfully, it’s important to switch your pillows too. Buckwheat and rice pillows are ideal for summer because they’re naturally cooling and don’t hold on to your body heat like other pillows can.
6. Replace Your Lights
Incandescent light bulbs can create a cozy ambience in the house, but they also emit a lot of heat. So, switch to energy-saving LED and CFL light bulb options. Since the sun sets much later in the summer, try to avoid using artificial lighting altogether. That way, the house stays cool after dark.
An effective way to stay cool in summer is by adopting Japan’s minimalist décor styles to trick the mind. A room that’s filled with chunky furniture and souvenirs makes a space feel congested and warm. Don’t believe me? Pack away all the unnecessary knickknacks, minimalize the décor, add some flowers, pebbles, and other elements that create a relaxing ambience, and your home will be a great summer sanctuary from the heat.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com and www.dreamstime.com