I would pass along some tips for those of you who will be
building a house here in Honduras or elsewhere in the tropics.
Some of the tips are from our architect, some we thought of when
we were designing our home, and a few we wish we had thought of.
These are some basic tips to
keep your home cool and dry − the major considerations in a
tropical area. Although most of the tips are just common sense,
those of us coming from colder, drier climates might not always
realize their importance.
your house to take full advantage of the prevailing breeze.
Designing the house so that your bedrooms receive the breeze is
a good idea and may save you from using air conditioning many
your design it so that you have good cross ventilation. A
more open floor plan allows the air to circulate better
throughout the house than closed off rooms.
rises, so high ceilings can make a big difference. Here
in Honduras, it doesn't cost all that much more to make your
ceilings 10 feet high because the main difference is adding a
few extra rows of blocks.
fans in most or all of your rooms will help you to feel much
cooler, especially in the kitchen. If you have high
ceilings, you'll need extensions to drop the fan down so that
the blades are at about 8 feet for the best effect. Ceiling fans
don't use much more electricity than a light bulb. Good quality
ceiling fans are available in the U.S. for around $100 and
sometimes much less than that − not that much more than a nice
your windows as tall and wide as you can afford.
This helps to let out the hot air as well as to let in
the breeze. This will also reduce your need for using lights
during the day. Larger windows will add to the expense,
especially if you plan to put iron bars over them, but weigh the
expense against the extra comfort over time.
at least one covered outdoor terraza
(facing the direction of the prevailing breeze if
possible) and make it bigger than you think you need. Consider a
ceiling fan for your terraza, too. Some days are so hot that you
will just want to live outside in the shade. One or two
electrical outlets in a protected area of the
terraza (terrace) are
handy to have for a radio or floor fan.
wide roof overhang helps to block the sun from the windows
and help to prevent the rain from entering. To try plan for a
few windows that can remain open during rainstorms, such as
facing your covered terraza, to keep the house cooler. The
weather can be very hot when it rains, too, and having to close
all your windows in that heat can be miserable.
much green space around your house as possible.
Concrete absorbs the heat of the sun and retains it for a
long time. If you have space for trees on the west side of your
house, they will serve to keep your house cooler in the late
afternoon, the hottest part of the day.
your construction to allow for runoff from tropical storms.
It's a good idea to elevate your home one to two feet or
even more above ground level. Make sure that your landscaping
slopes away from your home, not towards it and ensure that the
water has some place to go! The concrete
muros (fences) that are
so popular can act like a soup bowl during a tropical storm if
proper drainage isn't provided. Be considerate of your neighbors
and pedestrians − Don't let your roof or garden drain onto the
public sidewalks or your neighbor's property!