Cooling today's smart homes
Principal Software Engineer
As temperatures continue to rise during summers in the UK, homeowners have to consider various options to keep their homes cool and comfortable when the mercury rises.
The most obvious solution is installing air conditioning, which can be simple and effective but can also be costly and bad for the environment. The running costs of air conditioning units can be expensive, and there are limitations to the home's electrical supply that must be considered. For instance, the maximum demand that a home can place on an electrical connection is between 45 and 100 Amps, and whenever high-powered electrical devices are installed, the maximum potential demand must be assessed.
Another option is adding insulation to the loft and walls, which protects the home against temperature change and keeps the cold out in winter and the heat out in summer. However, insulation can become a negative factor in the summer once the house is already warm because it makes it harder to cool down again. Therefore, homeowners must find ways to decrease the rate at which the house warms up and increase the rate at which it cools down.
Adding new windows or skylights can also impact the temperature of the house, though sometimes not in the way one intended, as additional windows can in fact increase the temperature of your home on particularly sunny days.
To better understand the behaviour of each room at extreme high and low temperatures, investing in smart meter data can be an excellent option. Low-cost digital thermometers and home thermostats can provide homeowners with valuable insights into which rooms get warm and at what time. The data can be used to identify which rooms are affected most by the heat and what measures can be taken to cool them down.
However, whilst we would all like to cool our homes on those hot days, air conditioning and insulation are not affordable or practical for all. Below are a few handy tips for keeping your home cool on a budget:
- It is important to remember that heat rises, and as heat rises, it creates a pressure void below. Even if a ground floor lounge feels cool enough, if the upstairs feels too warm, it is worth keeping the lounge window open. This allows warm air to escape the higher floors more easily and pulls cooler air through the rest of the house.
- Keeping bedroom doors open also increases the air flow, allowing all rooms a greater chance of losing heat at night as long as the outside temperature is lower than the internal temperature.
- Keep windows, vents and curtains open when the temperatures are cool.
- Keep windows, vents and curtains closed when the temperature is hot, and make sure you consider all light entry points, not just classic windows.
- Utilise fans as they will provide a localised cooling effect and also provide the ability to help move cool air from one end of the house to the other, useful when the sun moves from the front to the back of the home.
In summary, there are various options for keeping smart homes cool during the summer, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, understanding the options, as well as utilising smart meter data where possible to identify the costs of these additional products, can help homeowners make informed decisions on how to make their homes more energy-efficient and comfortable during the hot summer months.