Monday, November 28

Closed window or open window: the best method to protect us against the heat according to science

We are suffering from the heat again times of teleworking keeping the house cool is vital. Blinds are one of our best allies when it comes to keeping solar radiation, and therefore heat, out of our homes. But what do we do with the windows? Should we also close the windows tightly to prevent heat from entering or should we open them to take advantage of air currents?

Not all air currents are the same.
Ventilating the house well can help us to calm the heat, but not always. At certain temperatures, currents may simply be blowing hot air at us. Humans have a body temperature somewhat below 37 degrees C, so if the wind blows more at a higher temperature it will do us little good. We must remember that the objective is to keep us cold, controlling our environment (our house) is just one more tool.

What do they say in Australia?
Knowing what they think in areas warmer than ours can get us out of doubt. The Department of Environment and Water for the state of South Australia has published a series of recommendations to beat the heat at home. Some more of his advice is based on insulating us from heat, both solar radiation and warm air.

For example, the first of his recommendations is to prevent the sun’s rays from entering our house through blinds, especially on facades facing west and (adapting it to our context) south. They also propose other ways of blocking heat, such as plants outside, good thermal insulation… and closing doors and windows, both those that face the outside and those inside our home.

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understand air movement to optimize its use.
It is important to prevent fresh air from escaping from our house, since it is denser than hot air. This also has to do with the relative height of our windows, since the air, when heated and dilates, tends to rise, while the heavier cold air will go down. That is, the cold air will escape faster the lower we are in the building.

Of course, from Australia they also recommend opening the windows once the hottest hours of the day have passed. Better still than waiting for the sun to go down and we can open the windows is to act preventively. Ventilating the house in the morning before the temperatures soar will help us improve the home environment and lower the temperature a bit to better withstand when the street starts to burn.

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The importance of good thermal insulation.
Insulating ourselves from the heat is not such an easy task. Many houses do not have proper thermal insulation. Many times this is seen as a way to keep the heat inside our house, and not outside, but thermal insulation is key both in winter and in summer. Especially if we want to get the most out of air conditioning by minimizing its use and therefore electricity consumption.

The ceilings of our house (when they face the roof and not an upper floor) are also important. The heat rises, so the upper floors tend to be warmer, but if we add to this the solar radiation that hits the roof, these can end up becoming authentic cauldrons.

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An example.
One of the characteristics of the caves is that they maintain a more or less stable temperature throughout the year. They achieve this despite not being completely isolated from the outside. However, these have the advantage of having much thicker walls than those of our houses. In caves, cold air, denser and therefore heavier than hot air, tends to accumulate the further we go in and out of the cave. Those with more than one input are more susceptible to variations in temperature, although this also depends on the arrangement of these inputs.

The importance of ventilation.
Ventilating the house properly helps to lower the temperature of the home, to oxygenate it and reduce humidity, thus also avoiding the sensation of embarrassment. Each house is a world and how we ventilate will depend on a large number of factors such as the layout of the rooms, the orientation of the facades and the air currents that exist around the building.

Factors to take into account.
In addition to the external temperature, there are other factors to consider when ventilating the house. First of all, pollution (including noise). Pollution fluctuates throughout the day, so ventilating at peak dirt times can reduce the benefits of drafts.

The second thing to keep in mind is even more important when the heat wave is combined with high pollen levels: we also have to control allergens. The presence of these also fluctuates throughout the day, which can also limit the time that we can have the windows of our house open.

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Other tricks to lower the temperature.
Not everything depends on ventilation. Changing the light bulbs for more efficient ones or turning them off at the hottest times of the day will fulfill the double objective of reducing the heat in our home and making us consume less energy. Eating out isn’t always an option, but there are always ways to eat without having to light kitchen fires.

Again, it should be remembered that our goal is to keep ourselves cold, lowering the temperature of our house is only a mechanism to achieve this. Thus, for example, the clothes we choose can have an effect on our thermal sensation. Cool cotton clothing can improve our thermal comfort both outside and inside the house. Apart from staying hydrated, we should refresh ourselves little by little, taking small sips of a cold drink or applying a little cold water to places such as the wrists or neck.

Image | Kimulechka

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