As the temperatures increase and we try to take shelter in every air-conditioned room we can find, it’s becoming clear that summer is here. While it may be warmly welcomed by some people, summer also brings along its own set of anxieties. One of them relates to what to do with our house, which suffers in the heat just as much as we do. We spoke to interior designers Antara Roy from AR Designs, Prathyush Sarup, who writes a weekly column for Gulf News tabloid!, and architect Geetha Nayak of Design Infinity, who gave us some tips on how to summer proof our homes.
HOW TO BEAT THE HEAT
It may seem like air conditioning is more than enough to keep you cool during the summer but there’s a lot that you can do to ensure your house stays cool while saving on those electricity bills.
Change your sheets
“It’s preferable to use sheets of natural fibres like cotton or linen because they’re breathable and act like a natural thermostat drawing moisture off the body and cooling it in hot weather,” said Roy.
It is also better to use lighter colours because they tend to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it. Sarup suggests to choose earthy colours and avoiding reds, yellows, oranges and the like.
Ditch the cloth curtains
Invest in some bamboo blinds, instead. Bamboo blinds block outdoor heat and keep the house cool. However, if you’re not looking for a complete makeover, you can invest in some blackout shades. These shades can be added to the back of your curtains or your blinds to provide maximum light blockage.
Replace your windows
Replace your thin windows with vinyl windows having tinted, double pane glass. That tends to be a little pricey so if it’s outside your budget, you could also apply a window tint to your existing windows. It does a fairly good job of reflecting sunlight at a lower cost.
Don’t add to the heat
In an era of environmental awareness, it’s about time you get rid of those incandescent bulbs and use LED bulbs instead. Along with producing carbon emission that is bad for the environment, incandescent bulbs also produce heat, which you don’t need more of during summer. Switching to LED bulbs can help you save energy while keeping your home a lot cooler.
If you live in a villa, outdoor plants can help provide shade to your house, thereby blocking sunlight from entering it. Roy suggests that having a full grown tree in your yard can block as much as 70 per cent of the radiations, thus keeping your surroundings cool. If you live in an apartment, indoor plants like Aloe Vera, Weeping Fig and Sansevieria can purify the air in your house while keeping it cool.
Seal your home
Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed so heat doesn’t enter your house. “Try to use weatherproof sealant around your doors and windows so there aren’t any gaps that can let the heat in or let the cold air get out,” said Nayak. Also keep your doors and windows closed during the earlier parts of the day when the heat is especially bad. In the evenings, Roy says that keeping your windows open can help increase circulation in the house and since it’s not too hot out, it does a good job of keeping you cool as well.
Clean your air conditioner
ACs are our saviours in this Dubai heat, so if you want it to work efficiently, you need to make sure it’s well maintained. While it largely depends on your maintenance contract, try to get your filters checked once every two months. According to Sarup, it’s better to get your ACs cleaned by February or March and then six months after. If that isn’t feasible, get it done at the beginning and the end of summer.
Creative ways to keep cool
Nayak says that the presence of a water element in the house is always advisable. “If you can buy a small fountain or any other source of flowing water, it can help humidify and cool the air within your house,” she said.
HOW TO TRAVEL WORRY-FREE
If you’re planning on travelling elsewhere this summer, the heat isn’t something you’ll need to worry about. However, leaving your house unattended is never easy and worrying about what’s happening back home can dampen your mood. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your house is in good condition while you’re away:
Keep your AC on
If you can afford it, keep your air conditioning switched on while you’re away so that there’s constant air circulation in your house. Sarup suggests that you can leave it on fan mode or increase the temperature to a point that ensures ventilation without it getting too cold.
Protect your furniture
If you’re going to be away for a while, you may worry about dust settling on your furniture. Spread a cotton cloth over your couches so they don’t collect dust. “Make sure you avoid plastic covers because some material, like leather, emits heat and that wouldn’t work well with plastic,” said Nayak.
Invest in home automation
If you’ve found yourself wishing you could keep an eye on your house despite being miles away, home automation can make that wish come true. From a security perspective, home automation lets you monitor what’s happening in your house just by connecting it to your phone and this can especially be helpful if you’re going away for a long term. Moreover, if you’re coming back home after a long flight, you can adjust the water temperature, air conditioning and other appliances so you can relax as soon as you’re back.
Consider a house sitter
Get someone close to you, and trust, to drop in once in a while and take care of your mail, look after your plants or just make sure that everything’s going okay. It may seem over the top but when you think about how important your house is to you, getting someone to look after it once in a while doesn’t seem so crazy.
Anieka Sequeira is an intern at Gulf News.