As we approach the heights of summer, we find ways to keep cool despite the scorching sun. But how can we cool our homes without using artificial methods of cooling like ACs?
An architect, Smriti Iyer, detailed how this can be done with her response on Quora. “There are a lot of methods to keep your house cool, it all depends upon how far you are willing to go,” she says.
Smriti then highlights the two sources from which maximum heat is received in the building, one being the roof and the other being the walls.
Process of heat transfer in buildings
The roof is the first recipient of the sun’s rays and this heat then radiates onto the lower floors. During the process of transfer, there is heat lost on every floor, thus making the top floor the hottest. The process goes on until the transfer finally reaches the ground which acts as an insulator.
Smriti says that the positions of the walls determine how much heat they will absorb, with South‐facing walls absorbing maximum heat and North‐facing ones receiving the least. When there is no ventilation, the internal air in the room gets heated due to adsorption and radiation, making it unpleasant.
Many factors go a long way in determining the amount of heating or cooling the building receives.
Factors adding to heat in the home
Clutter in the home can make it unpleasant. “Heavy furniture kept close to each other can create ‘hot air pockets’. Any kind of clutter in the house traps the hot air, and it becomes stagnant,” says the architect.
In addition to this, the presence of dark colours in the home could lead to increased absorption and thus heating. Lighter shades such as white, cream, sky blue, etc. would be a great idea. While steps can be taken to avoid these mistakes, there is plenty that can be done to help cool the home.
How can homes be kept cool in summers?
1. Plants on the terrace
Plants can be a wonderful way to bring down the temperatures indoors. “The mud used to grow plants acts as an insulator, absorbing the direct heat from the sun, thereby keeping the slab cool. Using plastic gardening sheets will also help in preventing any kind of water leakage,” says Smriti.
Not just on the terrace but even having planters outside the opening of windows is a great idea. She says that this absorbs the heat from the breeze and helps humidify the dry air circulating in.
3.White limewash on terrace
A white limewash on the terrace too acts as a reflective layer and helps the slab to remain cool throughout summer.
4. Straw as insulation
Another way could be by stacking bundles of straw and dampening these with water at intervals.
5. Bamboo blinds
Bamboo blinds on the windows too act as insulators against the sun’s harsh rays. These not only filter the humidity but also add to the aesthetic of the room.
6. Cross ventilation
Cross ventilation is essential. “It allows the stagnant hot air to be replenished and keeps the fresh air circulated throughout the building. Keep as many windows open as possible, during early mornings and late evenings. Around 5 am to 8 am and 7 pm to 10 pm. During this time of the day, the air gets replenished without all the harsh heat from the sun.”
7. Mud plaster
Smriti suggests an additional step that people can take is to apply a coat of mud plaster all over the external walls of an existing building. “This will provide a protective insulating layer against the harshness of the sun.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao
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