Summer can also bring about heat waves; sun streaming through the windows making it even hotter inside. And if you’re home isn’t designed to deal with the intense heat, you could be using a lot more electricity than you actually need to trying to cool it.
Is your home designed to really make the most of the summer lifestyle? Do you have a relaxing outdoor entertainment area? What about a sunroom you can enjoy without those pesky flies? Can you enjoy time spent indoors? Are you really utilising the extra hours of natural light, or do you find yourself flicking light switches every time you enter a room?
Ensuring your home is fit for an Australian summer doesn’t need to be as complex as it seems. There are some simple things you can do to ensure you’re summer-ready.
This one can be difficult as the amount of natural light pouring into your space is largely dependent on the construction of the house. If you have a say in the matter, use windows, skylights and reflective surfaces as much as possible to create a light, breezy and bright home.
Using natural light has a number of benefits. Not only will it cut the cost of electricity, it’s also a natural way to enjoy the indoors, ensures your home is warm and bright, brings you a little extra dose of vitamin D and freshens the room up in an instant. It will also freshen your mood, apparently. Science has found that improving the lighting of a home can help people recover from oversleeping, overeating and energy loss.
If you have no choice as to how much light enters your home, there are some simple things you can do to create the light you wish. Ensure your walls and ceiling are painted in a light colour, style with neutral and lighter colours, hang mirrors around the room to bounce the light around or, if you can, install a couple of skylights.
Window orientation can do wonders for a home in summer. Not only will it bring in some of that much-desired natural light, but it will also create a cross-breeze, if you design it correctly. The key here is that while you want to ensure you receive as much natural light as possible, you also want to ensure your home is designed for all seasons, not just summer.
Try to ensure your living and dining rooms, and kitchen face north as those will receive the most light all year round. And remember, if you want to keep your home cooler in summer, try to install blinds or shutters on west-facing windows. The sunlight will stream through towards the end of the day which isn’t always that pleasant when it’s scorching outside.
If you want to add windows but need a bit of privacy – the best example is bedrooms or bathrooms – a good idea is to utilise either frosted glass or install high windows. While people can’t see in, you’ll still get loads of natural light, especially because the sun will be beaming down from overhead.
When it comes to summer time in Australia, it’s pretty difficult to escape the heat. And many people will question whether it’s better to open up all the doors and windows to let the fresh air in, or shut up shop during the day. The answer though, is both. And it largely depends on what kind of house your home is.
Modern home? Shut all the doors and windows during the hottest part of the day to keep the heat out. As the afternoon starts to cool, open them all up. Of course, this only works if the outside temperature is lower than the inside one.
Houses that are designed in the ‘Queenslander’ fashion are ideal for hot weather as their design features, including shady outdoor areas and elevated floors challenge the hotter temperatures.
What’s key also here is where the windows and doors are situated around the house. There’s nothing better than a lovely summer breeze wafting through the home. And the only way to achieve this, is if at least two windows or doors are facing the right direction. If not, you’re probably better off keeping everything closed, including the blinds and curtains, until the temperature cools down a bit.
Of course, air-conditioning will do wonders for keeping the home cool. But there are more eco-friendly ways to get the best result for your home and hip-pocket. And if you are going to open the doors or windows, make sure to install some fly screens to keep the pesky insects outside.
If you’re in the midst of renovating your summer home, look at the eco-friendly ways to make it more enjoyable to live in during the hotter months.
First things first, maximise that glaring sun. While this may not impact the way you live your life during summer, it will definitely help those energy bills. Plus, it’s great for the environment. Look at installing some solar panels on your roof to produce power for your home and investigate how you can passively cool your home down. This is called working with the climate, not against it.
Passive design is all about using seasonal weather patterns to design your home so you don’t need to be too concerned about heating and cooling the inside. It’s all done for you. It also means your energy usage will be dramatically reduced and you won’t have to pull out that air-conditioning remote too much over the warmer months.
Orientate your home in the correct direction, ensure windows and doors are placed strategically around the home to allow for good ventilation, and utilise awnings, shutters, pergolas or plants to help reduce the summer temperature. By doing this, you can actually block up to 90% of the heat that is generated from direct sunlight.
If you can, installing some ceiling fans will do a world of good. The key here is to ensure that it’s spinning in the correct direction. Here’s a trick not many people know – when a ceiling fan spins counter-clockwise, it actually pulls all the hot air upwards, away from the floor, while circulating the cooler air, bringing the temperature inside your home at least a few degrees down.
Want to cool the house down even more? Grab a desk-fan and place a bowl of ice in front of it. The fan will blow the cool air, picking up the cold water from the ice cubes as they melt. The cool mist will feel absolutely delightful.
The best thing about summer is that you can most definitely bring elements of the outdoors in when it comes to the design of your rooms. Use bold, bright colours, or neutral, earthy tones, depending on what your personal style is. Find some indoor plants or decorate with succulents and cacti. Rearrange the furniture so you can stare into the backyard (or the view if you have one) so you can really make the most of the gorgeous sunshine.
To bring the outdoors in, use the garden as your inspiration. Look at the colour palette outside and implement it inside. For example, if you have beautiful hydrangeas potted outside, grab some purple or pink cushions and pop them on the couch. No plants or flowers whatsoever? Just grab some green or blue accessories and you’ve automatically matched your indoor design with your outdoor elements – nature.
Summer is the perfect time for entertaining. And if you have some light, bright and airy rooms in your home, you may as well utilise them. Ultimately, it all comes down to how you’ve styled your home. Whether it’s everyone gathering around the kitchen bench, grabbing a seat on the comfy sofa in the living room, or kicking back in the exceptionally functional sunroom, summer is all about embracing the sunshine, welcoming people into your home or relaxing with a good book.
In summer, most Australians live much of their lives outdoors, enjoying the longer days to cook, swim, entertain, or play sports. So any home ideal for summertime needs to accommodate this. Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply upping the ante, make sure the outdoor areas of your home are styled and designed for optimal living.
Achieving a versatile outdoor living space isn’t as hard as it seems. Really, it’s about zoning the area. For a seamless connection to your inside space, create a deck or patio connected to either the kitchen or living space, if possible. This creates a lovely flow between the interior and exterior spaces. It also means that when you’re entertaining, and your guests are outside, you don’t have to miss everything because you’ll be just inside the door.
Just remember, you need to consider where your home is and what conditions the deck is likely to deal with. Does it need to be slip resistant? Will it need a balustrade? All of these are questions you’ll need to answer before diving right into the construction. The most important element though, is the size. Make sure the area is big enough for what you want. If it’s just a simple table and chairs, great. But if you want a bench seat and an outdoor kitchen or barbeque area out there, well then, the deck needs to be big enough for all of that.
Of course, there are some other elements you’ll need to consider when designing your outdoor space. This will all come down to the purpose of the space but at the end of the day, versatility is key. Ideally, one area should serve as a dining area and casual relaxation area. Include a bench-seat in the design of your outdoor deck that can also be used as dining table seating.
Alternatively, shun the dining space all together and create a chill-out area with couches, lounges and ottomans. Pop some chairs or stools around and you have a relaxed atmosphere that can be used for eating, drinking, reading or just sitting there kicking the breeze.
We know, summer is all about the sunshine. But summer is also all about the heat and sunburn. And when you’re outdoors, it’s not totally necessary to be so hot that you want to throw in the towel and head to the ice-bucket inside (thanks air-conditioning). Any outdoor area will need a bit of shade. Whether it’s an awning of tree branches, an actual awning or sunshade (retractable of course), or a garden umbrella, whatever you choose, having something in your garden to bring shade will automatically make it much more usable.
Alternatively, you can pop some fixed roofing on top of the deck area and leave the rest of the garden exposed. You can also build a pergola, using the beams as the balance between sun and shade. It’s really up to you. If you do choose to build a pergola, remember to furnish it accordingly. Grab some comfy deck chairs or loungers and pop a table there too so you can relax, eat al fresco, or entertain friends.
Many people will want the fresh air of the great outdoors but not the glaring sun or insects that come with it. Enter the enclosed patio – the indoor/outdoor compromise. The great thing is they can either be fully enclosed with some windows for ventilation or slightly enclosed with retractable or fixed fly screens. Enclosed patios are a wonderful addition to a home, especially during the summer months. Of course, designed correctly they can be used all year round, but during the warmer times, they’re really a lovely, airy extension of your home. Best of all, they can be added onto an existing home without too much renovation required, and can be enjoyed regardless of what the weather is doing outside.
Everyone knows that all Australians love a good old fashioned barbeque. And let’s face it, barbeques are the best in the summer. It’s unclear why, they just are. Perhaps it’s the fact that everyone is happy to congregate outside. Or perhaps it’s because they’re an easy and relatively cheap meal that can be thrown together at the last minute. Whatever the reason is, always always always ensure your home is barbeque ready for the summer. Whether it’s creating a purpose-built space for the burner or grabbing a portable barbeque, most of the time, people will be happy just to be together.
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