Controlling your home's temperature naturally

Natural temperature control is subject to many factors. Here are five of the most important. Consider how these factors affect your home and take action to improve your comfort if you can.

1. Orientation

  • Ideally, your main living areas should face north.
  • With this orientation, it's easier to keep the sun out in summer, when it is hot, and to make the best use of it in winter.

2. Insulation 

  • Insulate your floor, roof and walls to keep the heat out in summer and to conserve it in winter.

3. Glazing 

  • Tailor the size, position, glazing and protection of your windows to suit their orientation (placing them either in sun or shade most of the time).

4. Thermal mass

  • Internal brick and stone walls, as well as a concrete slab, can all be used as heat sinks.
  • While the winter sun warms these surfaces, they re-radiate the heat at night, while in summer these surfaces stay cool during the day.

5. Ventilation 

  • To maintain access to fresh air, move and direct airflow using vents, extractors or air collectors, as well as carefully positioned external plantings and fencing.

Here are a few extra expert tips for controlling your home's temperature naturally:

  • In a hot climate, stopping heat from entering a house is better than removing it once it's in. Overhanging eaves or exterior shades or awnings deflect the summer sun without impeding a flow of warmth in the winter, when the sun shines from a lower angle.
  • Curtains provide some protection against summer heat. For best results, line them with light-coloured insulation fabric to deflect some of the heat, and open or close them as the day progresses according to the position of the sun.
  • A roof traditionally protects a roof and blinds or awnings to make it a cool retreat in summer. If it's facing north, it can also be a cozy spot in the winter with the blinds or awnings raised. For summer cooling only, choose a southerly or easterly orientation. A west-facing veranda will get hot in the afternoon.
  • Deciduous trees supplement a pergola, since their shadows can extend the area of shade. Plant large trees well away from your house to avoid blocking the light and any underground piping.
  • If there's plenty of space around your house but it's situated in such a way that it misses out on the prevailing summer breezes, coax the breezes in the right direction with fences and trees. Work out the angles, and site the barriers so that the breezes deflect to the area in your house where they'll be most beneficial. The barriers will also act as a buffer against the cold winds in winter.
  • In the winter, heat is easily lost through windows. Double glazing keeps most of the heat in, but if your windows are single glazed, draw the curtains to help prevent heat-loss. The thicker the curtains the better. You can also back your curtains with thermal liners, designed to keep the heat in your home from escaping.
  • Plant a pergola or trellis with grapes, passionfruit or kiwifruit and reap a double benefit of cool shade and an edible crop. If you want the sun's warmth in winter, choose kiwifruit or a deciduous grape variety that will drop its foliage.
  • Most houses have a sunny side and a cool side. Keep this in mind when deciding on the layout of your house. Positioning a home office or living room on the sunny side will save hours of expensive daytime heating and lighting in the winter.

Keep these expert tips in mind to help you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter without the financial and carbon costs of powered appliances.

Controlling your home's temperature naturally
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