If you are in the process of building a house or designing one, check whether you have taken adequate measures to beat the heat in summer. It is possible to design your house in such a way that you do not depend heavily on artificial devices. At least one building in Bangalore has shown that you can almost do away with the use of fans and airconditioners.
A house radiates heat when the temperature of walls and roof rises after exposure to the sun. They absorb heat during the day and release it during the evening and night as they cool down. By the time they fully cool down, you would have spent most of the night uncomfortably.
Absence of air circulation adds to the problem. You need to keep the air in motion in the house to ensure that it does not trap heat.
Both long-term and short-term solutions are available. You can incorporate some during construction and some even for the houses already occupied.
Green solutions Keeping buildings under shade is the best solution. Grow trees on the southern and western sides of your building, if you have open space.
If you are planning construction, leave some empty space for growing tall trees in these directions. Trees shade the buildings and make static air move or stop trapping of heat.
Since the sun moves from southeast to west and morning sun is not scorching, the walls on the south and west need all the protection. Architects suggest that the southern and western walls be built using a type of masonry called "Rat-trap bond."
This is a special arrangement of bricks during construction so that there is an air gap between walls. Architects assure that this does not affect the strength of walls. In fact this saves use of bricks, though two-layer construction is unavoidable. Simply put, it is a unique double wall, in which only the outer wall gets heated when exposed to the sun but it is not passed on to the second and inner wall.
Some architects do not recommend filling the roof with mud and watering it. They say this could lead to leaking of roof over a period of time. An alternative green solution is to grow several plants in pots and keep them on the top of roof, leaving narrow pathways for maintenance.
Hot air vent
It is important to provide your house with hot air vents. Hot air moves up and cool air settles down. Hence architects suggest that the hot air vents be provided right under the roof. The traditional Mangalore-tile roof houses are cooler because of this reason. Some architects argue that cross ventilation is a myth. Even if you provide fairly large windows right opposite one another in a room, the air may refuse to move. But providing hot air vent can do the trick. Extra projection of the roof may be considered if the dimensions of the site and the building allow you to do so. Again, this may be done on the southern and western sides only.
Alternatively, provide tall grills on your compound on these sides and grow beautiful creepers on them. This will add a character to your building as well as protect the walls from the sun. You may consider avoiding bedrooms in the southern and western areas of the wall.
Different structures of roof also may be considered. You may consider providing your house with a courtyard, which can act as a vent to take hot air out. A shadow of one part of the house falls on another and keeps that area cool.
It is possible to do away with fans and airconditioners if you design your house well. A solar chimney can draw cool breeze from the opposite direction without using electricity.
Go for rat-trap bond masonry for southern and western walls.
Grow a garden on the roof after ensuring your roof is totally leak-proof.