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Posted at: Apr 14, 2016, 1:06 AM; last updated: Apr 14, 2016, 1:06 AM (IST)THE 'IN' SIDE

Cool comfort

Keep your home naturally cool this summer by following a few simple steps

Sukhmani

As the temperature rises this summer, so does the cost for cooling your home. So this time, try using the air-conditioner less and cool your homes naturally by following a few simple tips. Fundamentally, the idea is to minimise sources of heat and remove built-up heat from inside.

n Keep the sun out. Keep the house closed during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night, either naturally or with fans.

n Install outdoor window drapes and awnings, especially on windows facing the sun (east-facing windows in the morning and west-facing windows in the afternoons). Use insulated window films.

n Up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows, so utilising shades, curtains and the like can save you up to 7 percent of your bills and lower indoor temperatures by up to 10 degrees.

n Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect the heat away from the house.

n Get rid of internal heat. The most common sources are appliances, electronic devices and lighting. Be aware from where the heat is coming. Now if you have air-conditioning, use it wisely. Don’t put lamps, televisions or other heat-generating appliances next to your air-conditioning thermostat because the heat from these appliances will cause the air-conditioner to run longer. The heat they produce will make it think your house is warmer than it really is, and your system will run harder than it needs to.

n You should also try to avoid heat-generating activities, such as cooking, during the hottest part of the day. If you are cooking, use your range fan to vent the hot air out of your house. By reducing the amount of heat in your home, you will have to use less energy to cool it.

n Paint your roofs with a specially formulated reflective white paint. This will help keep the house cool.

n Humidity makes the room air feel warmer, so reduce indoor humidity. Minimise mid-day washing and drying clothes, showering, and cooking. And when you must do these things, turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air.

n Along with the ceiling fans, use portable fans as well. Remember that even a mild air movement can make you feel 3 to 4 degrees cooler. Try a simple trick - fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice-pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust me: it’s magic!

n Switch to cotton sheets in your bedroom. Cotton is a smarter move this time of the year, as it breathes easier and stays cooler. And as an added bonus, buy yourself a buckwheat pillow or two. As buckwheat hulls have a naturally occurring air space between them, they won’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows do.

n Temperature sometimes drops early morning and late evenings. When that happens, open up your windows and let the cool air in.

n Ditch the incandescent lights. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy in the heat they emit, so tossing them out will make a small difference in cooling your home while lowering your electric bill.

n Avoid landscaping with lots of un-shaded rock, cement, or asphalt on the south or west sides because it increases the temperature around the house and radiates heat to the house after the sun has set. Plant shade trees around the house.

(Sukhmani is a Chandigarh-based interior and landscape designer)

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