Preparing your home for summerBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We’re halfway through March, which means the weather is now getting hotter and a lot more humid in the coming days. This also means that if you haven’t weatherproofed your house yet, well, it’s about time to reconsider your priorities.
As the temperature rises, so does the cost of cooling your home, especially if we use electric fans and airconditioner.
Like most of you who are keeping a watchful eye on you monthly budget and at the same time trying to make your home as cool and comfortable as possible, here are things that may help you beat the summer heat without having to shell out a fortune.
Lighter hues. The best colors to apply inside and outside the house are lighter hues. Light colors reflect more light as well as thermal energy than darker ones.
The same principle works when it comes to the color of your home. So add some spark to your home by choosing light colors for interior walls (like powder blue, light yellow and sea green). Also, take out the dark and heavy curtains from the windows and replace them with light and perky-colored ones to make the living room look brighter.
You could also replace your bed sheets and pillows with light-colored cotton.
Builders have known for decades that white roofs reflect the sun’s rays and lower the cost of air conditioning. But in 2008 researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley found out in a study that if 100 largest cities in the world replaced their dark roofs with white shingles and their asphalt-based roads with concrete or other light-colored material, it could offset 44 metric gigatons (billion tons) of greenhouse gases.
This study prompted California in 2009 to require new and retrofitted residential and commercial structures (with both flat and sloped roofs) the use of heat-reflective roofing as part of the state’s energy-efficient building code.
Use awnings. Awnings are rooflike structures that are often made of canvas or plastic and serve as a shelter over a window, door, or deck. The US Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce the spike in temperature caused by solar radiation by as much as 77 percent on doors and windows facing west.
Bring the plants in. Indoor plants are not only great in introducing color to the living room. They could also freshen up the atmosphere and help purify the indoor air.
Wondering what house plants are best in filtering the air and producing oxygen and absorbing toxic chemicals found in cleaning products, adhesives and paints? According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as well as the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, peace lily (Spathiphyllum varieties), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) and bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) are some of the best plants to purify your home.
Let the vines creep up the walls. Vines grow quickly and have an immediate effect. Livingroofs.org, an independent organization that promotes green roofs and living roofs in the United Kingdom, said vines could dramatically reduce the maximum temperature of a building (or house) by shading walls from the sun’s harsh rays.
Less is more. Remove the clutter inside your house. The emptier the room—otherwise known as minimalistic—the brighter and nicer it would look. Opt for light-colored furniture, too.
Shield your refrigerator from direct sunlight and position it far from the stove. When a refrigerator is surrounded by warmth, its compressor is forced to work overtime. Allow about 2 inches of airspace between the appliance and nearby walls and cabinets to provide an escape route for heat from the compressor and condensing coils.
Don’t let direct sunlight penetrate your home. While indirect sunlight is good as it could brighten a room, direct sunlight and prolonged exposure to it could fade the color of fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and linen. Even the white fabrics could turn yellow.
Direct sunlight could also ruin treasured artworks or beloved framed photographs inside homes.
Enliven your bathroom. One is expected to use the shower more often during these hot and humid months so make sure your bathroom is well attended to.
Clean shower heads or pails as they may harbor unwanted bacteria. You don’t need any strong antibacterial liquids and sprays as a douse of vinegar could remove stains, mildew as well as kill a wide range of household pathogens.
Change your bedding more often. Nothing beats slipping into cool, crisp cotton sheets at the end of a hot and humid day. They’re more comfortable on your skin than other types of fabrics as well as strong, absorbent and more hard-wearing.
But don’t forget to change the bedding together with the mattress topper at least once a week to keep moisture away from the mattress (besides, it’s much tougher to clean the mattress).
Insulate the underside of your roof. Roof insulation plays an important role in reducing the amount of energy you consume for cooling your house and in turn reducing your electricity bills.