The change in seasons brings a change in attitude within the home. Summer is usually a time for home renovations, where clear, warm weather brings the opportunity for DIY paint jobs and gardening. But, with warm and long days nearly upon us, have you considered preparing your home so it is also a healthy place throughout summer?
The health risks of cold and damp homes are well understood in the lead up to, and throughout, winter. And we are collectively aware of the tools to use when winterising our homes – insulation, ventilation, and energy-efficient heat sources. But what about the warmer months? What do we need to consider when preparing our homes for summer health?
Beat the heat
Summer is hot – already temperatures around New Zealand are rising. Heat is usually a lovely change, but excessive heat - just like excessive cold - can be debilitating, and affects our ability to work, relax, and sleep.
High temperatures within the house are associated with disrupted circadian rhythms, increased dehydration and skin irritation, decreased ability to focus, and increased bacteria growth around the home. While it may feel satisfying to bask in the sun during the day, when the heat carries on indoors it can be frustrating.
So, what can you do? It starts with ventilation. You can keep your windows and doors open for as long as possible, across the home, creating a draught to pull hot air out. However, this may not be possible for security reasons, or because it amplifies hay fever (see below). Another option is investing in a whole house ventilation system, which can take hot air outside efficiently. If your house gets too warm, actively cooling it is also important – if you have a heat pump, consider it a cost well-spent when you use it to cool air also.
Consider managing humidity levels as well – high levels of humidity in Kiwi homes are also an issue in the summer months. Although a damp home is associated with being cold in winter, in summer a damp home is a home that your body is unable to cool down in. Put simply, humidity makes us feel temperature more acutely. Managing in-home humidity starts in the kitchen and bathroom. It means cooking with pot lids on and showering with windows open to assist in ventilating warm, moist air.
Pollen and allergies
Summer is also a time with an increased pollen count that can play with your hay fever, or other allergies. When combined with high humidity, airborne allergens from grass and plants can be overwhelming – and it can be especially tough when the particles that cause hay fever find their way into your home.
This can be harder to avoid – it is natural to want to keep doors and windows open throughout summer. When preparing your home for summer, also consider changing the filters in your ventilation system. As your ventilation system circulates air, it filters out allergens like dust, animal hair, and airborne plant particles. Over time, the filters get clogged and are less efficient at cleaning your air. Preparing for summer health means preparing your ventilation system to deal with a new set of allergens. Ventilation systems work as healthy air solutions year-round, when properly maintained.
Attic and roof health
Hot air in the attic or roof space acts like a blanket, suffocating the rooms below. While they help keep warm air inside our homes during winter, in summer the roof can trap heat, making our living spaces unbearably hot. Even if you are taking proper steps to keep your house cool, a hot roof space can make your efforts redundant.
While long-term solutions include planting trees to eventually keep direct light off the roof, that won’t work in time for summer.
The first step is to make sure your roof is properly sealed against the outside, so that you don’t lose cool internal air through the roof, while hot air seeps in. Proper insulation and sealing through the roof cavities will help keep your home cooler. Consider a solar-powered roof fan as well. We’ve talked previously about why roof fans are crucial components for home health. But with summer coming (and getting hotter), a roof fan can help you save money on cooling costs, simply by ventilating the hottest part of your home.
Already feeling the heat? Contact Hometech today on 0800 466 383 to discuss ways to keep your home cool and healthy this summer. We can give you advice on a range of ventilation systems to suit your needs, helping you beat the impending summer heat.