Cooling your home
You can keep your home cool without adding to your electricity bill.
Good cross-ventilation can help cool your house down in summer. Create cross-draughts by opening doors and windows in different rooms, allowing the breeze to move through your home. Fit security latches so your windows can be left partially open during the day.
- Close blinds and curtains at windows that receive direct sun.
- Plant deciduous trees on north and west sides of your home - they provide shade in summer, but lose their leaves in winter and allow sunlight through. You can also use trellises for growing plants to shade your windows in summer.
- Install external window shades - such as blinds, awnings or louvres. They allow you to shade rooms in summer, but let light and heat in at other times of the year. External shading is much more effective than internal shading as it blocks the sun's heat before it gets inside your home.
- When building, design eaves (or roof overhangs) above north-facing windows - to stop direct sunlight entering rooms at the height of summer, but allowing direct light in the rest of the year. They won’t help you with low-angled morning and afternoon sun from the east and west.
A well-insulated house doesn't just stay warmer in winter, but is cooler in the summer months too. Start by insulating your ceilings and floors.
Floor and desktop fans are relatively cheap to buy and install, and are much cheaper to run than air conditioning. They're especially good if you only get a week or two of extremely hot days during the year.
Ceiling fans can be used for cooling in summer and for better circulating heated air around the room in winter. They also cost a lot less to run than air conditioning.
There are a number of ways to make sure your air conditioner or heat pump will cool as effectively and as cheaply as possible.
- Try using just the fan only setting - which helps you feel cooler by creating a breeze. This setting uses a lot less electricity than the full cooling mode. Keep your windows open while using the fan only mode.
- Use the dehumidifying mode - if it’s the humidity rather than the temperature that’s the problem. This mode uses less electricity than the full cooling mode. Shut your doors and windows in the rooms you're dehumidifying.
- Only use cooling mode on really hot days - when the other methods aren't enough. Shut all your doors and windows in the rooms you're cooling. It's best to just cool one room as this is what most heat pumps/air conditioners are sized for. Set the thermostat to around 22˚C. The room won't cool down any quicker if you set it lower, but you are likely to use more electricity by overcooling.
- Avoid using auto settings - if you forget to switch the unit off it will start heating if the temperature drops below the thermostat setting.
- Clean the filter of your air conditioner or heat pump regularly, as per the manufacturer's instructions.
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