How to keep your house cool during a Mallorca heat wave
Is it better to have the windows open or closed when it is very hot outdoors?
Beautiful finca for sale in Pollensa, Mallorca
In Mallorca the consensus is that to keep the house cool it should stay closed during the heat of the day and open at night.
How do the locals keep the heat out of their houses in Mallorca?
Drive through any Mediterranean village at lunchtime in July or August and you will may well surmise that the village is abandoned – every window and door will be closed. Or more accurately, all the shutters will be closed. Come back in the evening and they will probably all be open, unless they are out back in the patio. Whether with or without aircon, most locals will close their windows during the hottest hours of the day in summer.
However, just because the ancient mallorquins did this for generations, or even the current ones, is it really the best way to safe guard against the heat? May it be more down to traditional beliefs than actual science? Afterall, we are not living in a farmhouse on a barely populated island during the 18th century, are we? We are living this century, in a busy Mediterranean holiday town, along the coast or in the hills. Surely there are improved methods to keeping cool during a very hot summer without resorting to airconditioning.
So, what do we do about the open/closed windows conindrum?
The open or closed windows question has been bouncing around for ever, or at least since the invention of windows, and every summer heat wave in Mallorca brings it crashing back.
If you don’t have or don’t want aircon, then keeping the house cool is worth getting right. It can get too hot to be outside during the middle of the day, and unless you are under a parasol at the beach, or have a lovely shady outdoors area in the garden, you may find yourslef struggling indoors, sweating and wondering how to bring the temperature down. If you get it wrong you will be sleeping in a very hot room at night as well.
What about night time? Is it best to open the windows at night? Do you really feel safe enough to leave everything open at night, and what about mosquitoes…?
What about the lovely Summer sunshine in Mallorca?
And then there is the fact that you have bought a house in Mallorca so you can enjoy all this sunshine… do you really want to now spend your entire summer days locked indoors in a darkened, airless room? I admit it does sound rather unappealing. And. So the debate rages on…
Now, the theory goes like this: you open the windows when the outside air is cooler than the inside air, and you close them when the outside air is hotter. This way the cool morning air floods the house and airs it first thing, then you trap the cooler air indoors and close the house up, yes, closed. Windows and shutters ideally. And then in the evening, when the temperature drops again, you open the house up again, letting in the cool evening air.
However, if you are new to the heat of a mallorcan summer you may enjoy the hot days and not care if the house feels like a sauna, as long as the sunshine shines throughout the house, and there is a light breeze. With a well-insulated house you will quickly notice that the shadier corners remain cool even when you have everything open. Having the hot sun warm the floor tiles but air moving around freely will usually feel cooler than closing everything up, and will certainly feel better than having sun heating up closed window panes.
Insulated houses are key
How well insulated your house is will make a huge difference to the ambient feeling and to how easy it is to keep it cool during the summer (and warm during the winter). But warm moving air is often mistaken for breeze. A simple thermometer check will usually show whether the air that is moving is actually cool at all. Leave the house fully open throughout the day and you will be heating the inside so much you may not be able to cool it sufficiently at night. At this point most people will give up and install aircon. But then you won’t be able to have the windows open either! An alternative is to install a fan, stand alone or ceiling fans keep the air moving around while the house is closed up in the middle of the day, this will give you the feeling of a breeze.
If your house isn’t well insulated then keeping windows and blinds closed may not help much, as the heat from the sun will be heating the outside walls and getting inside anyway. If you can get an awning, vegetation in the form of a creeper or even a parasol to shade the outside walls, this can go a long way towards keeping the sun from beating down on the outside wall or roof and will help keep the inside temperature down.
Enjoy your house in Mallorca your way!
Having said all this, not everyone agrees, and let’s face it… you have paid good money for a house in Mallorca, because of the sunshine and the heat, in fact, specifically for the heat and sunshine, and you don’t feel like being locked indoors all summer in a hot airless and darkened room. Frankly it is too depressing. You may as well be in England. So, if the cat prefers the sun on the kitchen floor, or you like the sunshine streaming in, the hot air is better than no air at all, the light is beautiful and you can only enjoy these views in the daytime, then that is a good enough reason to keep the windows open.