The struggle to keep a home comfortably cool during the summer months is all too familiar for many Australian homeowners. Good insulation and a robust air conditioner can only do so much and there is always a room where the windows cop the brunt of the summer sun. Usually, these are north facing windows that are exposed to sunlight all day as the sun makes its arc across the sky.
Fortunately, it's possible to make a big difference to the amount of heat that radiates through these windows by adding passive cooling elements. Passive cooling is essentially the concept of keeping a home cool by preventing it from getting hot in the first place. Here are four smart yet simple ways that you can reduce the heat intake via the windows in your home.
1. Add exterior awnings
Awnings are protruding shades that are fitted along the top edge of your window frame. They are generally either made from a heavy-duty canvas or treated aluminium. During summer, when the sun is higher in the sky, awnings shade your windows from the brunt of the solar heat. During the winter, the sun's path is lower which means that you'll still get the benefit of natural warmth via the windows.
2. Add deciduous vines
For a more natural look, deciduous vines are a great way to shield your windows from the sun's heat during summer. They can be planted and trained across a simple frame or trellis above your window. In summer, the broad, dense foliage will create great natural shade. During winter, when the leaves fall off, you'll enjoy the warmth that the bare vines allow to enter your home.
3. Add insulated shutters
Shutters have been used for many decades to help keep homes in hot climates cooler. Modern shutters are even more efficient at this purpose and are designed with insulated cores to keep heat out in summer and warmth in during winter. Shutters give you total control over how much light and airflow you'd like and the louvres can be slanted to maximise or minimise heat loss or heat gain.
4. Add blackout curtains
If adding an external structure to maximise shade isn't an option, then choosing the right curtains can still make a big difference to maintaining a cooler home during summer. Modern blackout curtains are made to effectively repel solar heat as well as blocking out light. This might not be a practical option in the living room but they're a good choice in a bedroom where you don't need natural light throughout the day.