Summer is a time of heat and sunshine, but even in the hottest environments, nature has ways of staying cool. From the leaves on a tree to the fur on an animal, nature has adapted in various ways to regulate its temperature and stay comfortable in the summer heat. Here are a few ways that nature keeps itself cool during the summer, and what we can learn from nature to cool our homes.
• Evaporation: One of the most common ways that nature cools itself is through the process of evaporation. When liquid, such as water, is converted into a gas, it absorbs heat from its surroundings. This is why you feel a cool mist on your skin when you step out of a pool or shower, or why you feel a refreshing breeze on a hot day when standing near a waterfall.
Plants use this same principle to stay cool by releasing water through their leaves in a process called transpiration. When the water evaporates from the leaves, it takes heat with it, cooling the plant and the surrounding air. We can use this same principle in our homes by using evaporative coolers, which work by drawing in hot, dry air and passing it over water-saturated pads. The water evaporates, cooling the air as it passes through, and is then circulated into the room.
• Reflective surfaces: Many animals and plants have developed ways to reflect sunlight and heat away from their bodies to stay cool. For example, polar bears have white fur that reflects sunlight and heat, helping them to stay cool in the Arctic. Similarly, desert animals such as camels and lizards have light-colored skin that reflects sunlight and heat, helping them to stay cool in hot, dry environments.
We can use this same principle in our homes by using reflective materials on windows and roofs to reflect sunlight and heat away from the building. This can be as simple as using reflective window film or painting roofs with a reflective coating.
• Shade: Another way that nature stays cool is by seeking out shade. Trees and plants provide shade for animals and other plants, and animals will often seek out shade to rest and cool off during the hottest parts of the day. We can use this same principle in our homes by using shades, blinds, and awnings to block out direct sunlight and keep our homes cool.
• Insulation: Some animals and plants have developed ways to insulate themselves to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. For example, the thick fur of polar bears and the insulating layer of fat under their skin help them to stay warm in the cold Arctic. Similarly, the thick, insulating layers of fur or feathers on many birds and animals help them to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
We can use this same principle in our homes by using insulation to keep heat out in the summer and in during the winter. Proper insulation in walls, attics, and crawl spaces can help to regulate the temperature in our homes and make them more energy efficient.
By studying and learning from the ways that nature stays cool during the summer, we can find ways to cool our homes and make them more comfortable during hot weather. Whether it's through the use of evaporative coolers, reflective surfaces, shade, or insulation, there are many ways that we can use the principles of nature to keep our homes comfortable and energy efficient.