Retrofitting for Summer

Our  next door neighbours, Steve and Donna have been having trouble with the heat. We had access to a few extra resources and were sure the community could provide more, so decided to do what we could to retrofit the front of their house to protect it from the Sun.

Their place is the same as ours, the longest axis faces almost west and cops the full Sun in the afternoon in Summer with the bedroom and lounge room windows on that side.

We really started a month or so back by planting rapid growing, tall, edible plants along the little strip by the bedroom windows. We had Sunflower and Corn seedlings to spare, plus some Jerusalem Artichokes thea needed removing from our garden. Next, we’ll add in some groundcover like cucumbers.

The idea is to provide a bed of edible plants that will shade the soil, brickwork and windows and also add moisture to cool the are flowing into the windows of two of the bedrooms.

Last week, I was lucky enough to be given some inside blinds. We couldn’t use them and decided to use them for this project. There were enough to add blinds to all the windows on the western side. They may not be a perfect fit, but they are already making a difference.

What we really needed was a way to shade the veranda and lounge room windows and the surrounding brickwork.

I put up a post for help on the Buy Nothing Town of Gawler Facebook page for any shade cloth that folks may have.

Heather (who raises and sells plants as ‘Down the Garden Path‘) answered our call and gave a piece that was long enough to do the whole show and wide enough to fit with a little extra left over. Thanks Heather!

We managed to find some some old gang nails that just needed some delicate re-bending to be useful and away we went.

Jelina lent us her fabric cutting skills to cut the shade-cloth into the two pieces we needed, giving a cut far straighter than I have ever achieved. Ash, their dog, made sure she was doing it right.

With expert supervision from Athena, we  used the gang nails to attach the shade-cloth.

Once it was up, we had to decide how to keep the lounge room section tied down. We will try to find some Dynabolts and drill them into the cement later, but for now, our mutual neighbor, Roc loaned a piece of 40 mm steel fence railing that, amazingly, was exactly the length we needed. That was rolled into the bottom of the shade-cloth, providing enough weight along the length to hold it down evenly.

Steve and Donna then used some freely available cement chunks that were available to provide more weight and stability until we get the Dynabolts and fit them.

This is the kind of cheap and easy retrofit that you can do to your place or a neighbor’s. The material can be fairly easily scrounged and fitted. It doesn’t have to be the same as this one, just follow the basic idea.

Even if you can’t do anything permanent to your place because you’re renting or sharing, this kind of retrofit can be a temporary thing.

Remember, we’re all in this together. Helping your neighbors helps you too. Making them more comfortable during extreme weather improves  health and cuts their expenses . It saves power use too, cutting greenhouse emissions and going a tiny way to helping resolve a global problem.


A week later…

We measured a few comparison temperatures this afternoon with my trusty laser thermometer The the full Sun had been on the front of the house for a couple of hours.  The measurements were:

  • Outdoor temperature        38 C
  • Unshaded brickwork         46 C
  • Unshaded footpath             54 C
  • Shaded brickwork              34 C
  • Shaded window                    31 C
  • Inside floor temperature  31 C

Steve said the difference inside was great, so much more comfortable without the Sun radiating through the front window. They could even have the window open to allow broken light and fresh air.

We’re all interested to see Steve and Donna’s next power bill. I reckon there’ll be a big drop in use and cost.

ADDENDUM: we didn’t get to measure temps on the 50° day we just had but we’re all still alive!

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