Is Your New Home “Cool” Enough for the Florida Weather?

A View of Florida

A View of Florida

You’ve finally found your dream home in Florida. It’s quaint, near the sea and fits right into your budget. Moving to a new address all the way across the pond may be difficult, but with a house as lovely as this, you’re probably more than motivated to have your slice of paradise.

Before you call any moving company in West Palm Beach, FL, though, consider this: the hottest 2018 summer day in the state reached a whopping 94°F (around 34.4°C). The heat index — what the temperature feels like — is about 103°F (around 39.4°C). That’s a world away from London’s cool, grey weather.

Dealing with the scorching heat is part of daily life in the Sunshine Coast. As a newcomer, you might not be accustomed to the sweat and humidity. The best compromise is to find a home that keeps you cool and comfortable without raking up electricity bills. Choose one that leverages passive cooling.

A Home that Passively Cools

Passive cooling is a design strategy that cools and ventilates a building without relying on mechanical or electronic devices. The building — or, in your case, your soon-to-be-home — should tap into natural elements, such as breezes, nighttime air and shade. Think of it as a structure that’s designed to keep out heat — an attractive prospect in a state that’s known for its sunshine.

It’s counterproductive, not to mention expensive, to buy an ordinary home then renovate it to incorporate passive cooling designs. The trick, consequently, is to look for these cooling structures during house hunting.

Add these items to your checklist when you’re looking for a new abode in Florida.

A Cool Façade

They say your home is an expression of your self-identity. While it might be tempting to paint your home with colours that are as bold as you are, remember that light hues reflect the sun’s rays, while dark ones absorb them.

Also, passive design would discourage you from choosing a home sporting the bright Pantone Color of 2019. Narrow your earmarked homes to those with grey, beige or neutral facades and roofs. Bland, yes, but they will help keep you cool in the sweltering Florida heat.

The Presence of Shade

a house under renovation

If you don’t want to use your air-conditioning system too much, reduce the amount of sunlight that enters your home — a feat that’s trickier when you’re in the Sunshine State.

Thick, reliable window treatments are your best friend. Houses with shutters and blinds are ideal. It’s a bonus if you can identify windows that welcome the most sunlight during the day. See if you can plant a shady tree nearby to shut out most of the sun’s rays, as well.

Deciduous trees are a smart choice because they lose their leaves during the fall, letting in generous amounts of heat.

Leveraging the Breeze

A big part of passive cooling is taking advantage of the prevailing breeze. Air movement is crucial to keeping indoor temperature comfortable. So houses with skylights, clerestory windows, vents and louvres are less likely to make you sweat.

Additionally, it’s better if the long façade of the house has windows and faces the direction of the prevailing wind. The openings should have the same size. Open plan spaces and the presence of openings at different levels also maximizes air flow.

Does passive design sound like too much trouble? If you’re moving to a humid place, the extra effort will pay off later. Your ideal home is not just pretty décor and nice plumbing. It should also be designed to keep you cool in your hot, new address.