We live in the tropics and keeping heat out of our living spaces is a constant battle. Personally, I am less effective in the heat. My brain overheats and to be at my best I have to keep it cool. Having the air conditioner on full throttle is sometimes not the most cost effective option. Consider these alternative cooling options.
Tint your windows.
Window film will reduce glare and heat and UV rays making the room cooler and protecting your furniture, wall art and rugs from fading.
Exterior window shades.
Shade your windows from direct sun. Glass is a poor insulator. The heat just passes through easily. Consider awnings or deep roof overhangs. If the sun cannot hit the window it cannot heat it up.
Plant trees and shrubs.
Shade your windows and the house in general with large trees. Shrubs can be used to protect windows from direct sun. Use grass instead of concrete and other hard pavers close to the house. Concrete retains heat, heating up the air around it long after the sun goes down.
Use water features.
Fountains, running water, or misters will cool the atmosphere around the house and can impact on the temperature in your garden and in the house.
Layer your window treatments.
Use shades close to the windows to trap the warm air close to the window. Every successive layer will act as a further barrier. Board mounted valances actually act as a cap at the top of the treatment, blocking the hot air from escaping from the top of the treatment.
Light coloured linings.
Heat is reflected back outside. Dark colours absorb light and heat. Light colours reflect.
Choose roofing wisely.
Using the same logic as above, prefer lighter coloured roofing to reflect heat away from the house. When the space between your ceiling and your roof heats up, it is like a blanket. If constructing or renovating your home, consider high ceilings. More air to dissipate the heat. The ceilings in my parent’s home are very high. The space between the roofing and the ceiling is also deep, acting like insulation. My parent’s home is normally very cool. Ensure you have vents so the hot air can escape and the space can be ventilated.
Open the windows.
Cross-ventilate the room. Try opening your windows at night when the breezes are cooler. Yes you read right. I know the risk of inviting unwanted visitors. Only leave them open if it is safe and secure to do so. To keep the air moving, open interior doors. Consider installing a skylight that can open and close to function like a vent. If a sky light is not an option, think about windows with operable transoms. Remember the concrete ventilation blocks used in construction long ago? My parent’s home still has ventilation blocks between rooms and towards the exterior. Like I said, the house is always cool. Cooler breezes will circulate and replace the hot, stale air.
Fans keep the air moving and the space will feel degrees cooler. If you keep doors open, fans will move a larger body of hot air. Perpetual movement of the air will continuously replace the warmer air with cooler air. Consider extractor fans in the bathroom and range hood fans in the kitchen to move hot, humid air to the outdoors.
Turn off appliances.
When not in use turn off lamps, computers, the TV, etc. Especially in smaller rooms, the heat generated by appliances can actually impact the temperature of the room. Replace your incandescent bulbs with bulbs that give off less heat.
You don't have to run up a hefty electricity to keep your cool.