Australian summers can be hot and it seems they are getting hotter. We have put together some tips and sustainable solutions to keeping you cool as the mercury rises.
Coastal Commercial and residential air conditioning systems dominate the options for cooling down our lives. Technologies are improving all the time and some scientists are asking whether air conditioners could be re-engineered to lead the tackle of climate change. While we make recommendations about keeping your reverse cycle or ducted air conditioning units in peak condition to help reduce their impact on the environment and your wallets, it is important to share other cost-effective and climate saving methods to cool our homes and places of work.
Let’s explore two different ways to keep our cool:
Passive cooling is non-mechanical. It is effective and free and should be the basis of all efforts to reduce temperatures. Some level of passive cooling is required in each climate region through at some time of the year. Much of the east coast of NSW is set in a warm temperate climate and we have many passive cooling options available to us.
We on the Central Coast of NSW know how to appreciate the benefits of a stubbie cooler on a hot day. It keeps the refrigerated coolness inside for as long as possible. In the same way, a well-insulated home is the best way to passively keep the heat out during summer.
It is particularly important to insulate the roofs of buildings as these are often exposed to the sun and are hard to add shade to. Reflective foil insulation is best as it redirects heat energy away from the building.
Orientation and Shading
Windows are great for letting lots of light into our houses and commercial spaces. But the size and orientation (direction it faces) will also determine the heat that enters. You may think that north-facing windows are the culprit but it is actually the windows that are open to the east and west that let the most heat in. In summer, the angle of the sun is higher above the building so it doesn’t radiate heat in as when the sun is lower in the morning or evenings. While window coverings and glass tints will help combat this the glass in the sun will still heat up and radiate heat. The best solution is to provide some external shading. This can sometimes be achieved with smart landscaping.
Ventilation and Airflow
Sometimes opening a window is just not enough on a hot day. But opening two at different ends of a building will create a stream of air that will cool a person down. The types of windows that you have is actually more important than their orientation. Casement windows are best because they can open at angles and catch and direct the flow of a breeze. And who doesn’t love a summer breeze, right?
Let’s face it, scientists claim that of all the natural hazards in Australia, extreme heat events are the biggest killers. For this reason, actively cooling is definitely still a reasonable option in combating the summer heat storms.
We have all experienced those still summer nights when the windows are open, the mosquitoes are buzzing and there isn’t a breeze to be felt. The humble old fan can rescue us. It is effective and the cheapest of the active cooling methods. Larger ceiling fans are more effective. Air movement across your skin evaporates moisture from your skin leaving you cooler. Remember that fans only cool skin so leaving them on when no one is in the room is a waste of energy.
Much like a fan blowing over our skin, evaporative cooling draws in hot air from outside and cools it through water running cool clean air inside the building. They work well in dry climates because they increase the interior humidity. The temperature cannot be adjusted with this system.
Like it or lump it, Australians love A/C. Air conditioning installation has skyrocketed. Energy companies state that 4.6 million Australians have and use at least one air conditioning unit. You can read here about why they are so popular.
Energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness are the main concerns with refrigerative air conditioners and rightly so compared to passive cooling methods. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them in our homes or the workplace. If we learn to use them wisely and effectively we can reduce their impact on the environment. Another crucial step in making our air conditioners more energy efficient is to maintain them regularly. Air conditioning repairs on the central coast (or anywhere) are a must.
So if you are one of the 49 percent of Australians who use reverse cycle A/C, or if you are considering installing a new unit, why not try incorporating some more passive cooling methods into your home as well.
Contact Coastal Air Conditioning for more information about the future of environmental efficient air con’s or to find out more about professional repair and maintenance of your residential or commercial units.