Designing a Hawaii Home for the Wind and the Sun
Building a home on the Island is different from building one on the Mainland. If you are working with an architect or designing an addition to your home, you must consider your environment. With the tropical climate, you should plan for hot summers. The tradewinds and Kona winds play a big role in how a home functions best while the sun impacts the design on ways to keep the structure cool.
A long and narrow design or square floor plan is the best option for building a home. With a square design, there is less wall space, which minimizes the amount of loss of cooling energy. A long, narrow house with windows at each end facing north and south captures the breeze best in the evening to cool out the home for the next day.
When planning the design, minimize wall space on the east and west and avoid putting in windows on those walls so the hot sun doesn’t increase the heat in the home. The windows you do have will need to be large enough to allow enough air in. In addition to cooling, large windows also allow in plenty of natural light so you don’t need to use electricity, which can increase the heat in your home as well as adding to your utility bill.
When we plan the floor plan for a home, we consider where the sun will have the biggest impact. We will design an open floor plan where air can circulate and windows face each other to provide ventilation all of the way through the house. It is ideal if the bedrooms are placed strategically to take advantage of the tradewinds to provide breezes for those hot summer nights.
Homes are often built with high ceilings since heat rises. This leaves the area close to the floor much cooler. You’d be surprised at how much difference 10-foot ceilings can make in your comfort level.
Extra Design Elements
A wide overhang along the roof helps keep the sun away from the house. It also allows you to keep the windows open during rainstorms so you can stay cool. Builders will recommend a veranda on the cool side of the house where the breeze blows in to provide additional protection to that side of the house and to create an outdoor living space where you can stay cool. These outdoor spaces usually come with electrical outlets so you can have all of the comforts of home. Large ceiling fans help circulate the air even more in your veranda.
Most builders recommend having green space around your home instead of concrete to keep the area cooler. Concrete draws in heat and makes the entire area feel cooler.
If you are planning to build or are a new resident that is curious about the design of island homes, now you can understand the reasons for many of the design and building elements. It is essential that builders and designers consider the sun and the wind when designing homes for the homeowner’s comfort.