Curtains to ventilation: How to protect your home in extreme heat

Much like we wear lightweight, light-coloured clothing to help our bodies stay cool, and apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn, there are ways and techniques to summer cool our homes and protect them from extreme heat

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

At least eight people have died of suspected sun stroke in Odisha in the last three days. Officials say India is in the middle of the longest heat wave it has seen since records began. Temperatures have crossed 50 degrees Celsius in some areas recently. It’s time to adopt a more proactive approach to heat illness prevention and response not just at a personal level, but even the way we do in our homes.

Here are strategies to ensure you can act promptly and effectively. Use light colour exteriors to reflect light and keep the house cooler inside. Tinted film should be able to block out 60-80% of the heat – ask them to do a test on a sample and then install it! Make judicious use of plants that absorb humidity such as English Ivy, Peace Lily, Palms, Boston Fern, Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Orchids, Cacti. Maximise blue infrastructure in your home – simply means increase the amount of water bodies in your home.

According to Sarita Handa, Founder and Chairperson of Sarita Handa, “As the temperatures soar, our homes can become sweltering heat traps. But with the right beddings, you can turn your bedroom into a refreshing oasis. Opt for lightweight and light-coloured bedding made from natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, cotton linen, or bamboo. Consider sheets in pastel shades, white, or soft blues and greens that visually evoke a sense of coolness and serenity. You can also add a touch of summer freshness with fabrics like voile, muslin, or gauze. Upgrade your bedding to beat the summer blues and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.”

There are multiple changes you can make to your home interiors to make them summer compliant. Focus on simple tips to keep homes cool. “Selecting the appropriate wall covering can effectively prevent the house from becoming a miniature greenhouse,” says Roshni Kshirsagar, Partner at SJK Architects, a Mumbai based design firm. “Regarding windows, particularly those facing west and south, it is advisable to keep the blinds closed from late morning until early evening to diminish glare and uphold cooler room temperatures. Opting for lightweight materials like cotton instead of heavier, darker options is another commendable approach, as it facilitates airflow while minimizing glare. Additionally, bamboo blinds, available in a plethora of patterns and colours, offer both functionality and aesthetic appeal whilst adding a little summer touch to the home. Single panels of cotton curtains typically range between Rs 2,000- 4,000/panel, while woven bamboo chicks are priced between Rs 2,000-3,000/meter. These minor adjustments undoubtedly aid in mitigating indoor temperatures compared to outdoor conditions.”

You can also introduce water elements into your home spaces to decrease heat. Take the case of Stonecraft Woods Shamshabad, a Hyderabad based residential community with one of the largest Miyawaki Forests in the world, as they claim it. Says Kirthi Chilukuri, CEO & MD, Stonecraft, “Miyawaki method of afforestation is one of the best natural techniques for combating the heat in urban spaces. It can be a great long-term strategy to combat rising temperatures in your area. Studies suggest a temperature drop compared to surrounding areas. For instance, Woods Shamshabads’ Miyawaki forest took over 3 years to mature and it has shown a significant drop of 3-4 degrees in temperature compared to the surrounding areas. Furthermore, Miyawaki forests improve air quality; the dense vegetation acts as a natural air filter, potentially reducing heat-trapping pollutants. As a thumb rule, species of trees native to the Deccan Plateau include the common neem tree, mango tree, and the Indian Cork Tree.”

Can a layperson incorporate, and can the Miyawaki Concept be retrofitted? Yes, the Miyawaki Method is designed to be accessible to laypeople and can be applied to even small areas like backyards. Says Kirthi Chilukuri, “All one needs is a 12’x12’ parcel of land, where one can plant a 4×4 grid of 16-20 plants. That is the minimum size of land required to cultivate a Miyawaki plantation. Native saplings typically range from Rs 20 to Rs 100 per unit [ estimate from costs available in nurseries]. You can expect to plant several hundred saplings per square meter in the Miyawaki method. So, for a 20 square feet area (around 1.8 square meters), the sapling cost might be in the range of Rs 700 to Rs 7,000. Depending on the required improvements, organic matter or compost bags can cost anywhere from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000. This gives a ballpark range of Rs 900 to Rs 8,000 for a small-scale retrofit project.” It is advisable to research native plant nurseries and soil amendment options in your area for a more accurate cost estimate.

Then there are structural changes that can significantly cool your homes such as the use of traditional materials and techniques during construction of your home. According to Ahmedabad based architect Hiloni Sutaria, Founder HSC Designs- “To save energy and to provide natural cooling there are lots of materials and material technologies that we can employ that provide respite from heat. Terracotta tiles or clay tiles have been used traditionally as providing insulation on roofs and now the same material is also being used in walls to decrease heat load in buildings. Other traditional materials which help decrease the heat load are khus sheets which are now being adapted into furniture and being used to decrease heat load. Apart from this, we usually use climatic simulations to design spaces such that you can use local materials in optimum ways to decrease heat load in spaces. China mosaic is one such material tech that is used right; it acts as a great insulator.”

In case of greenfield projects, the homeowner should bear in mind the concept of radiant cooling. According to Mumbai based real estate developer Abhishek Garodia, MD Garodia group, “When incorporating radiant cooling and natural ventilation systems into the design and architecture of a project, several key considerations should be taken into account. The foremost solution to incorporate radiant cooling is the orientation of the structure itself. Orientation plays a crucial role in maximizing natural cooling and ventilation. Orienting the building to take advantage of prevailing winds and sunlight patterns can facilitate natural airflow and passive cooling. Additionally, optimizing the layout to promote cross-ventilation and airflow throughout the interior spaces can enhance comfort levels without relying heavily on mechanical systems. Opting for operable windows, louvers, and vents to promote natural ventilation and airflow within the home, positioning windows strategically to capture breezes and create cross-ventilation pathways makes a big difference with enhancing airflow and ventilation.”

Combating extreme heat in our cities requires a multi-faceted approach. Proper insulation of walls and ceilings can prevent heat from seeping into your home, keeping indoor temperatures more stable and comfortable can be tackled by having columns and beams as a part of interior structure, meanwhile having slabs cantilevered with blockwork used around it can insulate the structure much more efficiently as concrete of columns and beams is much more conductive of heat as compared to blockwork.

At the same time, the homeowner can contribute by not just introducing green cover and water bodies but also opt for energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems to minimize energy consumption and reduce the environmental impact of the home.


How to beat the heat, this summer at your home. The table below gives you an idea:

Category Item/Type Price Range Filling/Details Source
Bed and Bedding Cotton Bedding ₹500 – ₹8,000 Natural, breathable, moisture-wicking
Good air circulation, absorbs sweat
D’décor, Home centre
Linen Bedding ₹500 – ₹2,000 Linen is highly breathable and has excellent moisture-wicking abilities. It tends to stay cool even in hot temperatures and gets softer with each wash. Ikea
Microfiber Bedding ₹800 – ₹7,000 Lightweight, soft
Microfiber is lightweight and soft. While not as breathable as natural fibers, it is affordable and dries quickly, which can be beneficial in hot, humid climates.
Amazon, Flipkart.
House Plants Boston Fern ₹350 – ₹500 Boston ferns are prized for their lush, feathery fronds and their ability to thrive in high humidity environments.
Placing a Boston fern in your home can help increase moisture levels and reduce ambient temperatures, creating a refreshing oasis during the summer heat.
Peace Lily ₹200 – ₹700 With its elegant white blooms and glossy foliage, the peace lily is not only visually appealing but also effective at purifying the air.
This plant thrives in shady areas and helps maintain humidity levels, which can contribute to a cooler indoor atmosphere during hot summer days.
Snake Plant ₹350 – ₹750 Also known as the “mother-in-law’s tongue,” the snake plant is renowned for its ability to purify the air and thrive in low light conditions.
It releases oxygen at night, making it an excellent choice for improving indoor air quality while also cooling down your space.
Tinted Film Per sq ft
₹30-₹150 Heat blocking Local Suppliers ( Just Dial)
Water Bodies Indoor Fountain ₹2,000 – ₹15,000 Small decorative water features that can be placed in living rooms, entryways, or gardens.
Adds humidity, creates a cooling effect, and provides a calming ambiance.
Amazon, Flipkart
Fish Tanks/Aquariums ₹3,500 – ₹30,000 Glass tanks filled with water, fish, and aquatic plants.
Adds humidity, cools the air, and enhances interior decor
Amazon, Flipkart
Retrofitting Cool Roof Coatings ₹325 – ₹795 per litre Cool roof paint reflects sunlight and heat away from your home, reducing indoor temperatures. NoBroker

Source: Business Standard

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