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11 Ways To Cool Your Yurt

When I lived in a yurt over the summer in Texas that had no A/C, I ran cables from a house just so I could have a small fan. I dreamed of having some kind of cooling system. So, I decided to come up with a guide and share it with you guys on some easy and affordable methods to cool your yurt. Here’s what I found.

Yurts can be cooled with methods such as air conditioning systems, window awnings, reflective insulation, light-colored fabric, and natural ventilation. By selecting the proper placement, you can avoid receiving too much sunlight. Traditional yurts were designed to push warm air out of the top of the yurts dome.

Let’s go further into detail on some of these cooling methods, as well as some extra tips to keep cool during hot summers.

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

1. Select The Proper Placement

The first and most important step in keeping your yurt cool is picking the right spot for it. Permaculture experts swear by selecting the proper placement of any house to combat weather conditions.

When scouting for a location, consider factors such as shade, wind, proximity to water, solar orientation, and the use of reflective surfaces.

Choose a location that gets plenty of shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Large trees or a hill can help block direct sunlight and offer some relief from the heat.

Think about the path of the sun throughout the day, and position your yurt so that it faces north or south to minimize direct sunlight exposure during the hottest times of the day.

Pay attention to the natural wind patterns in your area, and position your yurt to receive a consistent breeze to help circulate air and cool your living space.

Be mindful of any obstacles that could block the wind. If possible, set up your yurt near a natural source of water, like a stream, river, or lake, to take advantage of the cooler air coming off the water.

Just be cautious of potential flooding risks and make sure you’re not violating any local regulations by building too close to the water source.

The location of your yurt plays a crucial role in keeping it cool during the hot summer months. Taking the time to find the perfect spot will go a long way in ensuring a comfortable living space.

2. Reflective Insulation

reflective insulation

Adding reflective insulation to your yurt’s roof and walls can significantly reduce the heat that enters your living space. Reflective insulation is designed to bounce back the sun’s rays, keeping your yurt cooler.

You can find reflective insulation at your local hardware store, or even make your own by attaching a layer of aluminum foil to a foam or bubble wrap base.

To install, simply attach the reflective insulation to the interior walls and roof of your yurt using adhesive, staples, or tape.

If you’re in an area without much natural shade, consider using reflective surfaces to bounce sunlight away from your yurt. This could be a simple solution like a reflective tarp, or something more permanent like a strategically placed mirror or light-colored wall.

Reflective insulation can also be used as a method to keep heat in. If you’re looking for a guide on how to heat your yurt, check out my recent post Top 10 Ways To Heat (& Insulate) Your Yurt.

3. Air Conditioning System

yurt in the woods

Although it might not be the most off-grid solution, installing an air conditioning system can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping your yurt cool.

You can choose from portable AC units, window units, or even mini-split systems that work well for yurts. Just make sure to choose an energy-efficient option, and consider using solar power to run your AC system to maintain your off-grid lifestyle.

To install an air conditioning system in your yurt first, determine the size and type of unit that best suits your needs.

Portable AC units can be easily moved around and vented through a window or custom-made vent. Window units require a secure and properly-sized opening in your yurt’s wall, while mini-split systems need a small hole for the conduit that connects the indoor and outdoor components.

4. Use Natural Ventilation

Interior of a yurt

Yurts typically come with a central skylight, known as a “tono,” that can be opened for ventilation.

Make sure to open this up during the day to let hot air escape and encourage airflow. You can also add windows or vents around your yurt to create cross-ventilation and keep the air circulating inside.

To maximize natural ventilation, consider installing adjustable window screens or louvers that can be opened and closed as needed. This allows you to control the amount of airflow while also keeping bugs and other critters out of your yurt.

5. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to keep the air circulating in your yurt, making it feel cooler and more comfortable.

To install a ceiling fan in your yurt first, select a fan that’s suitable for your yurt’s size and ceiling height.

You’ll need to attach a fan-rated electrical box to the ceiling structure, making sure it’s secure and can handle the weight of the fan.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble and install the fan, and connect it to a power source. If you’re going off-grid, consider using a solar-powered or energy-efficient DC motor fan to minimize energy consumption.

6. Incorporate Earth Tubes

Digging a hole in the ground

Earth tubes are an ingenious way to harness the cooling power from the ground.

By burying tubes at a certain depth, you can take advantage of the stable underground temperature to cool the air entering your yurt. As the air travels through the tubes, it cools down, providing a refreshing breeze inside your yurt.

To incorporate earth tubes, dig trenches at a depth of 6 to 8 feet, and then lay PVC or corrugated plastic pipes in the trenches.

Make sure to use pipes with a diameter large enough to promote proper airflow. Cover the trenches with soil, and connect the pipes to vents or air inlets in your yurt. Remember to install a mesh screen at the entrance of each pipe to keep out insects and debris.

7. Add a Shade Sail or Canopy

A simple yet effective way to keep your yurt cool is by adding a shade sail or canopy outside. This will block the sun’s rays from hitting your yurt directly and help lower the temperature inside.

Choose a material that’s breathable and UV-resistant to ensure maximum effectiveness.

8. Use Light-Colored Fabric

Portable Yurt

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.

9. Create a Water Feature

If you have the space, consider adding a water feature like a small fountain or pond near your yurt.

The evaporating water will help cool the surrounding air, and the sound of flowing water can be soothing on hot summer days.

10. Hang Wet Sheets or Towels

Dampening sheets or towels and hanging them up inside your yurt can help cool the air through evaporative cooling.

As the moisture evaporates, it absorbs heat from the surrounding air, making your yurt feel cooler. Be sure to use lightweight, moisture-wicking materials for the best results.

11. Window Awnings

Window awnings provide shade for your windows, preventing direct sunlight from entering and heating up the interior.

You can choose from a variety of materials and styles, such as fabric, metal, or wood, to match your yurt’s aesthetic. To install window awnings, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure they’re securely attached to your yurt’s frame.

If you’re going for a more DIY approach, you can create your own window awnings using canvas or other durable fabrics.

Extra Tips On How To Keep Your Yurt Cool

Yurt with a platform

In addition to our best ways to cool your yurt, here are some extra tips to help stay comfortable during the hot summer months:

  1. Keep doors and windows closed during the hottest part of the day, and open them during cooler early mornings and evenings to promote air circulation.
  2. Use energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting to reduce the amount of heat generated inside your yurt.
  3. Cook outside using a grill or solar oven to avoid heating up your yurt with indoor cooking.
  4. Keep the interior of your yurt uncluttered and open to promote better air circulation.
  5. Use moisture-wicking and breathable bedding materials to stay cool and comfortable while you sleep.

How Mongolian Yurts Are Designed to Keep Cool

Yurt in the mountains

Traditional Mongolian yurts, known as “gers,” have been used for centuries by nomads in Central Asia. These yurts are specifically designed to adapt to their environment, providing warmth in the winter and staying cool during the summer months. Here are some features of Mongolian yurts that contribute to their ability to keep cool:

  1. The tono (central skylight) can be opened for ventilation, allowing hot air to escape and promoting airflow within the yurt.
  2. The lattice walls and supporting structure are made of lightweight materials, which allow for better air circulation and heat dissipation.
  3. The felt insulation used in traditional Mongolian yurts has natural insulating properties, which help regulate the temperature inside the yurt.
  4. The round shape of the yurt promotes efficient air circulation and minimizes heat buildup in corners.
  5. The exterior coverings of the yurt can be rolled up or adjusted to allow for better airflow and shade during the hot summer months.

By understanding how traditional Mongolian yurts are designed to keep cool, you can incorporate some of these elements into your own yurt to maximize comfort during the summer!