If you are fortunate enough to live in a warm climate then during the summer months you may find your shipping container home gets a little too warm, just like any other home. What can you do about this? You could always just install air conditioning. But we have put together a list of other tips to keep your building cool.
It’s surprising how many people don’t actually use shades on their windows, especially people who live in hot climates. Shades can be used to both keep hot air out during the summer and keep hot air inside during the winter. Make sure you install white or light colored shades because they are better at reflecting the heat. Blinds can also be used, but aren’t quite as effective as shades.
If you want to really keep your home cool, also add curtains over any windows that get direct exposure to sunlight throughout the day.
Use the Night Air
A great tip shared by the Huffington Post is to use the cool night air. Most places get a bit of a reprieve from hot days when evening comes. Make use of this time to reset the temperature of your home. Open your curtains and windows just as you’re going to sleep to allow the cool night to cool your home. Close your windows early in the morning to avoid creating a sauna!
Use Your Garden
Often people aren’t aware of the impact that their garden has on the heat of their home. Your garden can be used to plant trees which act as a shade for your home. Not only that but they also look good. The Hybrid Poplar is one of the fastest growing trees which can be up to 50 feet fully grown. They are popular because they grow around 8 feet per year. Another popular pick is the Northern Catalpa. It doesn’t grow as fast as the Hybrid Poplar however it has an exceptionally thick canopy of leaves which can provide great cover for your home and keep the heat off. Remember that if you want to benefit from passive solar heating during those cold winter months, then don’t plant trees on the south side of your building.
Swap Your Lights
Incandescent lights can waste up to 90% of their energy in heat. So when you see them up there on your ceiling they really should be providing you only with light rather than warming your home! Switch out the incandescent lights for an energy saving light also known as a compact fluorescent light. Not only will it help to keep your house cooler, it will also save you some money on your electricity bill!
Given the long rectangular shape of many shipping container homes, box fans can be the perfect appliance to cool your home. The trick is you need to use one to blow the cold air in and another to blow the hot air out, like a pull/push system.
Where you place your fans depends on the positioning of your container home. A good rule of thumb is to place a box fan at any north facing windows/openings. This gives the benefit of any cool northern breezes! Then place box fans on the opposite side of your home to suck the hot air out of your home. You should be cool in no time.
Design Your Container Home to Keep Cool
If you have not done so already, read about the Vissershok Primary School in South Africa here. They built an additional classroom made from a shipping container. They wanted an affordable way to keep the classroom comfortable because temperatures can spike in the summertime.
The architects placed a sloped, over-sized roof on top of the classroom which aids in passive cooling by allowing the hot, interior air to rise up and out of the classrooms. In addition, the metal roof is coated in reflective paint so much of the sun’s heat is reflected away from the classrooms.
The architects also placed lots of small windows on both sides of the container. This allows the cool air to blow in one side of the classroom and out of the other, taking the warm air with it. It’s all about utilizing the natural environment in a smart way to keep heat out of the classroom.
The choice of your roof plays a critical part in how hot your shipping container home will be during those summer months. Using a reflective metal roof can be not only affordable but it can provide you with vast amounts of heat reduction. Traditional roofs such as a dark asphalt roof will actually absorb the sun’s heat and conduct it into your building. Reflective roofs send the heat back right out into the atmosphere. The downside of this is that during the winter, warm heat from the sun that you actually want is also reflected away from the container, so think careful about your climate as you explore these techniques.
Don’t Use Your Oven
If it’s already warm in your shipping container, it doesn’t make sense to turn on something which can produce up to 400 degrees, does it? Consider cooking in ways that don’t heat up the kitchen. Try cooking on a grill outside while enjoying the glorious weather, cooking early in the day, and cooking with slow cookers and instant pots.
Portable Air Conditioning Units
If you are in a sweltering location, instead of installing air conditioning throughout your home, you can buy a portable air conditioning unit. The cooling capacity of the unit will vary depending on the size of the room where you will be using the unit. A unit with 12,000 BTU will sufficiently cool a room up to 400 square feet.
Film Your Windows
If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at our in-depth case study on the Graceville Container Home you can read it here. They used Low-E glass windows on all of their second and third floor external walls. Glass with Low-E coatings allow significantly less heat through than traditional windows. This acts something like the reflective metal roof in that you are preventing the heat from entering your building in the first place. Don’t be discouraged if your windows have already been installed without Low-E glass because you can still purchase Low-E film to apply to those windows.
These tips and tricks will help to keep you cool during the summer months!
Let us know in the comments section below if you have any other great tips for keeping your container home cool.