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Do Yurts Get Hot in The Summer (& 8 Ways To Keep Them Cool)

I’ve seen a lot of concern in the yurt community about living in a yurt in places that get super hot in the summer. I even have my fair share of living in a yurt in the brutal Texas heat. So, I wanted to come up with an answer on whether or not yurts stay cool during the summer, along with some ways to keep them cool. Here’s what I found.

Yurts are designed to stay cool during the summer as the dome lid provides an escape for hot air. Yurts circular shape also allows for optimal airflow. They can also be cooled with methods such as air conditioning systems, window awnings, reflective insulation, light-colored fabric, and natural shade.

Now that we know yurts are designed for hot weather and you can use other cooling methods in your yurt, which one is for you?

How Yurts Are Designed To Stay Cool

Yurts have been around for thousands of years, and they were initially designed by nomadic people in Central Asia.

These folks built their yurts with a keen understanding of the environment and its challenges. One of the key features of yurt design is its ability to stay cool during hot summers.

Airflow in A Yurt from the book The Complete Yurt Handbook by Paul King
Source: The Complete Yurt Handbook By Paul King

Ventilation and Airflow

First, let’s talk about ventilation. Yurts have a unique, circular shape that allows for optimal airflow.

The central opening, known as the “tono” or “crown,” is located at the top of the yurt. This opening serves a dual purpose: it lets in natural light and provides an escape route for hot air.

As we all know, hot air rises, so having an opening at the highest point of the yurt allows the warm air to flow out while drawing cooler air in from the ground.

To further enhance airflow, many yurts have windows or vent flaps located around the perimeter. These openings can be opened or closed to regulate the flow of air, keeping the interior of the yurt cool and comfortable.

Insulation and Reflective Materials

Yurts are typically constructed with a layer of insulation sandwiched between an inner and outer cover.

The insulation, often made of felt or other natural materials, helps regulate the temperature inside the yurt. It keeps the heat out during the summer and retains warmth during the colder months.

Another clever feature of yurt design is the use of reflective materials. Many modern yurts come with an outer cover that features a reflective layer. This layer reflects sunlight away from the yurt, preventing it from heating up too much.

8 Ways To Keep Yurts Cool

Yurt in a field of flowers

1. Location

When selecting a spot for your yurt, assess the landscape and sun patterns throughout the day. Choose an area with consistent natural shade, such as under a tree canopy, next to a tall structure, or on the leeward side of a hill.

To take advantage of prevailing winds, orient your yurt’s doors and windows in the direction of the breeze, which will help with natural ventilation. Use a compass or smartphone app to determine the best placement.

2. Maximize Shade

Yurt in the forest in Alaska

If natural shade is limited, build a pergola, gazebo, or shade structure over your yurt, ensuring that it’s large enough to provide ample coverage.

Alternatively, plant fast-growing trees, vines, or shrubs around your yurt, selecting species that thrive in your region and won’t harm the yurt’s foundation. Consult with a local nursery or landscape professional for planting advice and maintenance tips.

3. Air Conditioning

Installing a traditional air conditioning system in your yurt can provide powerful and consistent cooling. For a permanent installation, a mini-split system is an excellent choice because it doesn’t require ductwork and is energy-efficient.

These systems consist of an indoor air-handling unit and an outdoor compressor/condenser. When installing a mini-split system, make sure to select a unit with the appropriate cooling capacity for your yurt’s size. Keep in mind that this option may require a more reliable power source than some of the other methods mentioned.

Installing ductwork under your yurt’s platform is another innovative way to cool your yurt. Create a system that circulates cool air from shaded or underground areas through ducts and vents in the floor. This “cool flooring” technique can help maintain a comfortable temperature inside the yurt while minimizing the need for air conditioning.

4. Reflective Insulation

Installing reflective insulation between your yurt’s inner and outer covers can significantly reduce heat buildup.

Look for materials with a high reflective index and radiant barrier properties, such as aluminum foil or mylar sheets. This will help to reflect sunlight away from the yurt, minimizing the amount of heat absorbed by the structure.

If you’re looking to add insulation yourself, remove the outer cover of your yurt, and carefully attach the reflective insulation layer between the inner cover and the existing insulation, securing it with adhesive, staples, or ties as appropriate. Reattach the outer cover once the insulation is in place.

5. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are essential for promoting airflow within your yurt. By installing one or more ceiling fans, you can effectively push hot air up and out through the central opening while drawing in cooler air at ground level. Opt for energy-efficient or solar-powered fans to reduce your environmental impact and energy consumption.

When installing, ensure the fan blades are at least 7 feet above the floor and have a minimum of 18 inches of clearance from the walls. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation or enlist the help of a qualified electrician.

6. Cross-Ventilation

Cross-ventilation is a simple yet effective way to keep your yurt cool. By opening windows or vent flaps on opposite sides of the yurt, you can create a natural airflow that pushes hot air out and draws cooler air in.

Experiment with different window or vent combinations to find the most effective cross-ventilation setup for your specific yurt and location.

7. Dome Lid

Yurt dome

As mentioned earlier, the dome lid on the top of the yurt was designed to create more airflow.

Dome lids often come with an adjustable mechanism that lets you open or close them as needed to regulate airflow and temperature. By opening the dome lid, you can allow hot air to escape while drawing in cooler air from the lower parts of the yurt.

If your yurt doesn’t already have a dome lid, consult with your yurt manufacturer or a professional to find the right design and installation process for your specific yurt.

8. Light-Colored Fabric

The color of your yurt’s fabric can make a big difference in how hot it gets inside. Opt for light-colored fabrics that reflect sunlight, rather than dark ones that absorb heat.

This can help keep your yurt cooler during the day.

What Climate Are Yurts Designed For?

Yurt in new mexico

These traditional structures were designed to withstand a wide range of climates, from the harsh winters of Mongolia to the hot and arid summers of the Central Asian steppes.

With their adaptable design and the use of modern materials, yurts have become increasingly popular in various climates around the world.

Adapting Yurts for Different Climates

The versatility of yurts lies in their ability to be modified and adapted to suit the specific needs of various climates. Here are some ways yurts can be tailored to different environments:

  1. Cold climates: For colder climates, yurts can be fitted with additional insulation layers and efficient heating systems. Double-walled designs, as well as the use of insulated platforms and floors, can further improve heat retention. Properly sealing doors and windows will also help keep the cold out.
  2. Hot climates: As we’ve discussed in this article, there are various ways to keep a yurt cool in hot climates, such as proper ventilation, strategic placement, insulation, and cooling systems. Adjusting dome lids, using reflective insulation, and creating cross-ventilation are all effective methods for managing heat.
  3. Wet climates: In regions with high precipitation, it’s essential to ensure that the yurt’s outer cover is waterproof and made of durable, mold-resistant materials. Adequate drainage around the yurt’s foundation is also crucial to prevent water damage.
  4. Windy climates: Yurts are inherently sturdy and can withstand strong winds when properly anchored and tensioned. However, in extremely windy environments, additional structural reinforcements and wind-resistant materials may be necessary.

The Pros and Cons of Living in a Yurt

Living in a yurt offers a unique and alternative lifestyle that many people find appealing. However, like any housing option, it comes with its own set of pros and cons. To help you decide if yurt living is right for you, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Living in a Yurt

  1. Affordability: Yurts are generally more cost-effective than traditional homes, making them an attractive option for those seeking affordable housing or a budget-friendly vacation retreat.
  2. Eco-friendliness: Yurts have a smaller ecological footprint compared to conventional houses, and their construction materials are often more sustainable. Additionally, many yurt dwellers embrace off-grid living, further reducing their environmental impact.
  3. Flexibility: Yurts can be easily disassembled and relocated, offering a level of flexibility that traditional homes don’t provide. This can be particularly appealing to those with a nomadic lifestyle or a desire to change locations frequently.
  4. Customization: Yurt interiors can be easily customized to suit individual preferences and needs. Their open floor plan allows for versatile living spaces and endless design possibilities.
  5. Connection to nature: Yurt living often fosters a strong connection to the natural environment due to its minimalistic design, large windows, and a central skylight.

Cons of Living in a Yurt

  1. Limited space: Yurts typically have less living space than traditional homes, which can be a challenge for large families or those who require ample storage.
  2. Climate control: As discussed in this article, controlling the temperature inside a yurt can be challenging in extreme climates. While there are ways to adapt a yurt for various environments, it may require additional effort and investment.
  3. Noise: The fabric walls of a yurt offer less sound insulation than traditional homes, which can be an issue for those who require peace and quiet or live in noisy areas.
  4. Permitting and regulations: Depending on the location, obtaining permits for a yurt or navigating local building codes can be challenging. It’s essential to research the regulations in your area before committing to a yurt.

Is Living in a Yurt Worth It?

The decision to live in a yurt ultimately comes down to personal preferences and priorities. For those who value affordability, flexibility, and a connection to nature, yurt living can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

However, if you require ample space, noise insulation, and a more traditional living environment, a yurt may not be the best option.

Before deciding to live in a yurt, carefully consider the pros and cons and weigh them against your individual needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Additionally, research local regulations and visit a yurt in person to gain a better understanding of what yurt living entails. With a well-informed decision, you can confidently embark on your yurt living adventure, knowing whether it’s the right choice for you.