Earth Notes: Manage the Heat Maltese Style
Ignore the wild scare stories in the tabloid press that insulation in your house will cook you in summer the moment that the sun pops out!
On the contrary, good insulation, glazing and shutters, reflective blinds, curtains, and chosing when to open and close windows and use other ventilation, can all help keep your house cool when it's a scorcher outside.
Perhaps as a tenant you can't fix up your house right now, but you can still manage like a Maltese to beat the heat.
In the UK we've grown used to the idea that to cool down we can open a window, but when its hotter outside than inside, that's not true!
In Malta where temperatures can easily hit the 40s (C), and heavy air-con isn't really a thing at home, how do they manage, and can we learn any lessons from them?
I had the pleasure of managing a team in Malta for a while, and while there I learnt the following simple rules that also work for me in London in that blink of an eye that can pass for hot weather here:
- Open windows at night to let hot air out, and let the building cool.
- Exploit the chimney effect and have convection help move the air; open vertical windows, and open windows on top and bottom floors where possible.
- Close windows, curtains, reflective blinds and shutters during the day to keep hot air and strong sunshine out, at least once it's warming up outside.
- Sometimes you can also open windows during the day on the side of the building where the sun isn't shining if the air outside is not too hot.
If your home has very poor insulation then you may find it hard to stave off the heat and just have to go with whatever is outside. But more or less anything that you do to improve the building to stay warm in winter will help keep your cool in summer, and for example, UK landlords are now obliged in law to meet a minimum (not very good) thermal performance to be allowed to rent at all: it may be time to nag!
In any case life may be more complicated than alluded to above, and you may want to air the house if there's a nice breeze, but just doing the above makes a huge difference to comfort.