Build your home to stay cool in those beating summer days

The weather in New Zealand is changing from scorching summer days to cool winter breezes. This is something you should consider while developing a new house or renovating an existing one. It's normal to desire other ways to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The availability of air conditioning sometimes causes architects to become complacent. Prior to its invention, a variety of ways were employed to cool and ventilate a structure. But why bother with them when you can install a heat pump unit in any old box? Given the anticipated increase in cooling demands, it is critical to re-learn those procedures for keeping buildings cool. Every well-designed house or business structure that does not require air conditioning saves energy for decades.

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Use the shade to your advantage

Before we even enter the home, it's a good idea to shield the outside from direct sunlight. Trees give good natural covering if you reside in an area surrounded by them. Deciduous trees, in particular, trees that shed their leaves annually, are good in blocking out the light during the ice cream and lemonade months while allowing in the sun during the winter months.

If the topography permits, you can even construct your home in such a way that it is earth-sheltered. These dwellings can be completely underground or include features such as walls or roofs erected against the dirt. This is a highly energy-efficient and cost-effective (at least in the long run) method of battling harsh weather.

In the absence of a nearby hillside, you can build protective covers such as canvas, awnings, or overhangs to keep the sun from directly striking your house's roof and walls. It's critical to determine the depth of the overhang: too deep and you'll lose your winter light, too shallow and you'll have too much summer heat. The correct dimensions will be determined by your location.

NIWA SolarView: is a useful tool that shows you the sun’s path at your site.

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Insulate the house thoroughly

Unwanted heat gain enters a home not just via the windows, but also through the walls and roof. Installing a lot of insulation in the building envelope will help a lot with reducing unwanted heat build-up.

The house should also be airtight, so that you may close the doors and windows throughout the day to keep heat out.



Air movement keeps you cool by hastening the evaporation of moisture from your skin. As the humidity rises, you'll need greater air circulation.

Active ventilation allows fresh air into and through your home by using doors, windows, opening skylights and clerestory windows, vents, louvres, and other openings. This aids in cooling while also eliminating moisture and airborne pollutants.

It is important to have a house design that allows air to move smoothly from one side of the house to the other for ventilation efficacy. If your house is constructed on a slope with multiple floor levels, you may exploit the stack effect of warm air rising up by opening windows on the lower and upper floor levels.

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Use caution when selecting roofing materials

Insulate your attic. Also, while you're at it, paint it. Insulating your roof and attic keeps all of the heat that accumulates as sunshine strikes the roof from entering your home. It acts as an additional layer of defence against the summer sun. Another technique to ensure that less heat is absorbed through the roof is to build it out of reflecting materials.

Historically, this has meant using lighter-coloured textiles, such as white linen on the beach. However, white roofs are not often at the top of most homeowners' aesthetic wish lists.

Ready to build the summer proof home? Contact our expert team to take first step toward turning that dream into reality.