Most of us have a love-hate relationship with Singapore’s summer. We rejoice at the sight of sunny skies when we’ve got outdoor activities planned, but dread being cooped up at home on a hot day without the air-conditioning on.
While most of us have AC systems installed, not all of us are willing to blast them all-day, especially when we’re stuck working from home. To knock some weight off your utility bills, here’s a quick guide on how to keep your home cool to beat the heat.
1. Set ceiling fans to the right direction and speed
Image credit: The Orange Cube
If you find yourself sweating bullets even when your ceiling fan is set to high, it’s probably because your fan is set on counterclockwise – this means that instead of distributing cool air, your fan is set to effectively distribute the warm air that has risen back around the room.
While ceiling fans alone don’t heat up nor cool down a room, the rotation of the blades creates a better momentum and speed to create an airy feel. So while you’ll see a vast difference in wind power when you switch the rotation of your ceiling fan. On the right setting, you’ll be able to feel the gusts of wind from where you’re seated.
Reversing the direction won’t take a lot of grunt work but the mechanics differ depending on the style of your fan. To save you the homework, here is a general tip on how to change the direction if you have a pull chain fan, remote controlled fan, or a smart fan.
- Pull chain: Simply restart your fan by turning it off and toggling the switch – located around the body of the fan or light fixture – to the opposite side.
- Remote control: Turn your fan off, then on again and click the reverse button on your remote control. Your fan will begin to rotate in the opposite direction once you see a blinking light.
- Smart fan: Most smart fans have a manual reverse switch. With that being said, simply turn your fan off and look through the app to let the clockwise rotation take into effect.
2. Use tinted solar film to block up to 80% of heat
Image credit: ochre.home
Bay or floor-to-ceiling windows are highly coveted features in any home, but these can be a double-edged sword. Natural light flooding into your home can be a wonderful thing, but with sunlight comes a large amount of heat.
Here’s the good news, you can easily line your windows with tinted solar film to keep your home cool and protect your skin against harmful, cancer-causing UV rays.
Brands like Zenith offer 3M prestige tinted solar films that help to reduce glare while allowing visible sunlight to come through. With four variations to boot, you can select from a range of light reflection levels between 40% to 70% .
Super cool is another great choice if you’re big on privacy. While they have a range of tinted solar films, the SR 4000 series is ideal if you wish to have 100% daytime reflective privacy. But besides reducing the visibility from the outside, the films come in a single-way reflective mirror and dual-way reflective mirror.
3. Opt for thermal curtains
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Most of us are familiar with day and night curtains. But if you’re plagued by a heated room on the reg and thrive in a dark environment, then thermal curtains will grant you both privacy and a cool space.
Not to be confused with blackout curtains which only grant you pitch darkness, thermal curtains are primarily constructed with at least two layers of thick fabric comprising an insulating barrier on its window-facing side to absorb heat. The science behind it checks out and it’s said to reduce a room’s overall temperature up to a whopping 33%.
That’s pretty impressive for something that doesn’t run on any electricity. It’s also a relief to know that thermal curtains come in all sorts of prints and are quite affordably priced on shops like Next. Alternatively, if you’re good at sewing, you can whip up your own with Spotlight’s selection of thermal curtain fabric that goes for only $12/metre.
Note: The smooth layer should face towards the interior of the house while the rough side should face towards the window.
4. Decorate with air-purifying plants to reduce humidity
Beyond the jungalow decor and aesthetics, plant-husiast will be happy to know that plants play a crucial role in cooling one’s home – and go the extra mile to reduce the humidity by absorbing the moisture in the air through their leaves.
If you don’t possess green thumbs, here are some uber low maintenance plants that you can purchase from your neighbourhood’s nursery.
If you prefer to not have a deck of plants scattered on your floor, opt-in for vertical wall gardens and hanging features to maximise the number of plants you’re able to have in your home. While they are easy on the eyes and make interesting staple pieces to your abode, they also offer an added shield to prevent heat from coming into the house.
Maintaining the plants will be quick and fuss-free as vertical wall gardens normally come with a water irrigation system either remotely controlled or built-in. Nevertheless, you should ensure the wall gets indirect sunlight and is regularly misted to ensure your plants thrive.
Vertical wall gardens are also neat for their ability to grow non-vining plants – so you won’t have to worry about trimming it every few days or weeks.
5. Knock walls down or go for an open concept for better ventilation
Image credit: @thewoodyhome
Unless you’re blessed with beautiful bay or floor-to-ceiling windows and great ventilation, there’s little to nothing that can be done to the existing windows that come with your flat. With that said, even for those with resale flats with less than ideal sized windows on their hands, not all is lost.
You can still reno your way to a breezy home by breaking down walls that interrupt the natural flow of air in the home. Think open-concept kitchens, rooms with sliding partition doors to fully open up the space, and rotating dividers to enhance airflow.
Image credit: Blarrow
Another cost-efficient alternative is cross ventilation where you can have two open airways on either end of the room from your windows to your doors. Single-sided ventilation is quite commonly seen in most HDB flats, but you can easily create cross-ventilation in your home by carving out internal windows between rooms during the reno stage.
6. Invest in a dehumidifier to remove moisture in the air
Image credit: Cosmo
Year-round humidity can present a world of problems when it comes to maintaining a cool temperature. While our bodies rely heavily on the air to cool us down, you’ll notice even the most mundane activities can cause moisture to linger on our skin thus making us feel warmer and sweaty.
Yes, most of us rely on a well-powered AC to cool us down. But high humidity levels would mean your AC has to work a lot harder to cool your room thus causing your bills to spike. With that said, a nifty dehumidifier is more useful in removing moisture from the air in high humid areas around your home.
7. Use cool-surface textiles for the floor or countertops
Image credit: @chark_chalk
From minimalistic soft rugs to uniquely vibrant tapestries, soft furnishings are staples for any home. Yes, the thickness and material of these fabrics may be cosy but pair it with a hot afternoon and you’ll start to feel the hot breeze throughout your home. You might wanna consider putting your rugs and throws away on a really hot day to prevent your home from heating up.
Clear flooring is always a go-to to beat the heat. But there are some flooring options that retain more heat than others, and wood is one example. Marble, on the other hand, has the ability to cool a room 10 times faster as it’s a heat conductor. TLDR; heat is transferred and lost to the environment faster as compared to other materials.
Image credit: @thestoneemperor
This goes for other areas of the house such as cabinets, ceilings, and countertops. So if you’re planning your reno right now, you’ll want to factor cool surfaces such as natural stone and quartz into the equation.
8. Opt for a lighter colour palette
Image credit: Renonation
We’ve all experienced the uncomfortable feeling of wearing dark colours while out and about on an exceptionally hot day. Though the science behind this is generally widely known – darker colours soak up and trap heat within a home. Yet people tend to forget about this when planning their home’s colour scheme.
Though dark wall paints are an easy way to add dimension and character in a home, opting for a lighter, neutral colour palette can make a world of difference in temperature. Lighter shades such as cream, beige and mauve are useful in deflecting heat and providing a light and airy feel to the house.
Lighter shades give you an airy feel and 35% less heat than dark-coloured walls
Image credit: Renonation
How to keep your home cool
It can be tempting to crank up the AC or simply plant yourself in front of a high-powered fan on a hot day. But while these options may be useful, you’ll want to consider this list of tips and tricks for a more sustainable and low-cost alternative to keeping your home cool.