Keep your house cool

In summer the sweltering heat makes one wonder what you could have done during the winter months to make your home a cooler haven.

Air conditioning is the answer that jumps to mind and modern split level units are con siderably more efficient and attractive than older systems But notes Dr Piet Botha chair man of the Nationlink estate agency group this is an expensive option and with electricity costs set to rise and the increase in power consump tion as computers new appliances and theatre systems enter the home owners might profit ably explore other answers...

Light colours reflect more of the sun's heat and are the obvious solution for outside walls But light paint is seldom practical on a roof so owners should seriously consider installing ceil ing insulation which will also prevent heat loss next winter. A radiant barrier a sheet of aluminium foil with a paper backing that can reduce heat gains by 25 per cent can also be installed on the underside of your roof.

Energy experts say some 40 per cent of un wanted heat enters through windows which is a major problem particularly when views are part of the home s attraction. Modern window coatings of sun control film which can reflect up to 80 per cent of incoming sunlight or com bination films that allow more light into the room may be the answer. They can be applied to existing windows.

Heavy curtains or blinds can keep a room cooler but restrict the view while exterior aw nings protect windows directly facing the sun and retractable awnings can be installed to pro tect windows at certain times of the day Ceiling fans also reduce room temperatures by about four degrees.

Dr Botha says an attractive option is also to landscape the surrounds of the house and plant indigenous shade trees that are both attractive and low maintenance.

A large tree strategically placed to shade much of the roof and the wall of a house from the fierce afternoon sun can achieve wonders. And if it loses leaves in winter so much the better because it will allow warmth to reach the house when it is needed.

And finally he says owners should aim to reduce heat sources inside the house. Dishwash ers tumble dryers and ovens generate heat and are best used in the evening if at all during summer while a braai in the garden instead of a stove cooked meal will help keep the house cool save electricity and please the family.

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