Cool Architecture for HOT Summers

A few ideas on keeping cool in your home!

With way-above-average temperatures already kicking in throughout the state, it looks like it's going to be another record-breaking summer. Seems that the real possibility of climate change, whether part of the Earth's natural cycle or caused by human activity, is something we'll all have to deal with. The good news is that for millennium people have been designing and building houses that can keep us comfortable no matter how uncomfortable it gets outside. So maybe it's time to rediscover these age-old building techniques and incorporate more of them into our homes.

Here are a few time-tested heat-beating ideas — and some new ones — to consider.

 -Add shade. Glass isn't an efficient insulator. It allows warmth out during the cold months while letting heat in during the warm months. Providing a shading device over these areas of glass will mitigate the greenhouse effect and go a long way to keeping your home cooler.

 -Incorporate water and plantings. Just as misters keep cool those in the queue at the amusement park, a fountain, pool or other water feature will definitely keep the surrounding air cooler. And plants act as shades, blocking the sun's rays before they reach the ground.

 -Use UV-blocking glass. Windows have come a long way in the past few decades. Double and triple glazing, low-e coating, argon fills and impact glass are some of the features that most window manufacturers have incorporated into their products. You'll want to make sure that you use a window that blocks the UV rays to not only cut down on heat gain but to keep your interiors from being bleached by the sun. So when looking at new or replacement windows, make sure that the window is constructed with the low-e coating on the proper surface for your climate.

-Increase air circulation. Operable windows, especially those that are properly shaded, can keep the interior nice and cool. Windows such as these transom types can be left open at night to let in the cooler evening air.


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