Malaysia is blessed with an all-year-long tropical climate with warm beachy temperatures that people in 4-season countries can only dream about! But having to deal with the high humidity throughout the year can also be a sweaty affair – switching on the air-cond usually solves the problem, until you receive your next electricity bill!
Sustainable home designs are taking over new housing developments in Malaysia. For good measures too – sustainability principles not only reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint, but they enable us to effectively harness and channel the flow of natural resources toward our house.
You know all about solar power, how about ‘cooling power’? Before you start your house renovation or construction on your new crib, consider incorporating some of these sustainable elements to cool your house:
1. Building Orientation
If you have the correct building orientation for your home, you can save a lot in cooling and lighting bills. Ask your contractor or interior designer about building your home on a north-south orientation – this way, when the sun moves across the top of your home you will receive maximum diffused light in the day, with less heat radiation from direct sunlight.
Also, building your house on a north-south orientation capitalises on the prevailing wind direction. Read on in the next point to know more about natural ventilation.
2. Natural Ventilation
Your home orientation also determines the flow of wind into your house. For example, having a “through-wind” design concept built into your home will literally allow wind to freely flow through your home to create natural air circulation and ventilation.
Open-planned designs with minimal hallways and internal walls promote more cross-ventilation. Have at least two windows or doors in each room, positioned to catch breezes from the south east and north east.
Narrow or pavilion style homes also capture breezes better and helps your home to stay cooler. This maximises the opportunity to install windows and doors to bring in cool air and open indoor areas onto outdoor spaces.
3. Functional Floorplan
To have cooler living spaces during the day, the lounge, kitchen and dining areas should be located to the north, while bedrooms should be located to the south. Storage areas or the garage can be located in the south-west to shield the main house from the sun.
Where it is not always possible to design your house with the ideal north-south orientation, ensure that there is adequate shading and opportunities for ventilation to keep your home cool. Shading keeps your home cool by preventing materials from heating up and heat entering through glass windows and doors. Plant shady trees around your home to reduce heating of external surfaces, especially concrete, and prevent heat from entering your home.
Consider hiring a professional landscaper and find out what type of plants and trees can give shade, are easy to maintain, and suit the size of your house and design aesthetics.
5. Building Materials & Colours
Choose lightweight building structures which can cool faster at night. Shade any parts of your house that have concrete block walls to keep them cool.
Your paint and roof colours should also be kept light to minimise the absorption of heat. Another way to keep the heat out is to ensure that your roof and walls are properly insulated.
6. Installing Energy Savers
If you do some homework, you’ll find that there are many ways to save your cost on cooling systems. For instance, you can start by switching to energy efficient versions for your air-conditioning.
Better still, opt for other cost-saving cooling methods like installing a ‘whole house fan’ or energy efficient window coverings. Or maybe, you just need to limit your energy consumption by switching-on the timer on your air-cond and fans – remember, every little bit counts!
Discuss your plans to build and renovate your house using some of these sustainable design principles with your contractor and interior designer.
You can also choose from our list of skilled renovation contractors, landscaping designers and interior designers on Kaodim.com, and select which services you need to help build your home. Ask if they have any credentials in green and sustainable building designs, we’re sure they’ll be ready to assist you.