Use Landscaping to Increase Cooling
Creative landscaping is a great way to naturally cool your home. Strategically positioned trees and shrubs will shade your home’s exterior, slowing the heat exchange process. It can also keep the AC units cool, which allows it to run more efficiently. Just by planting shrubs alongside the central cooling unit can save up to 50% in cooling costs.
Not sure about how to plant a tree? Just watch this easy-to-follow How To video on planting a tree in your yard.
Learn more details about cooling your home through landscaping.
Cool Your Home Naturally
Everything from swapping incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent (CLFS) to installing sun screens or similar shading devices should be considered by the heat-weary homeowner. Even using the outdoor grill instead of the stove or oven will make a difference. The combined cooling effects of these passive solutions will see energy bills decreased at reasonable up-front costs.
Learn more on natural and passive cooling techniques for the home.
Install a Solar Attic Fan
An attic fan can reduce your cooling bills as much as 30% by exhausting all the hot air out of the attic. Some, like the Solar Star attic fan pictured here, qualify for that nifty 30% federal tax credit and don’t require the home’s electricity to run. That’s serious savings.
Read a little more about attic fans here.
Install a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are another alternative to the expensive window AC unit. Not only do most fans use minimal electricity, they make the air inside feel much cooler, allowing you to adjust your thermostat for greater energy savings. Look for a fan with a reverse switch so it can also be used in the winter to push warm air back down into the living spaces.
Good news, too. This is another doable DIY job. Here’s the Step by Step How To Video on installing a ceiling fan.
Properly Size Your Residential AC
If a new AC unit is the way to go, be sure to properly size the AC system to your home or room’s needs. Bigger is not always better–in fact it can result in wasted up-front costs and an inefficiently run unit, which can drive up lifetime costs.
Follow this guidelines to purchase a properly-sized air conditioning system.
Use Caulk and Weatherstripping
One of the least expensive ways to improve your home’s cooling efficiency is to seal up the home using caulk and weatherstripping. Although the process of determining problem areas and actually installing the weatherstripping and caulking may seem tedious, it’s actually a pretty fun and rewarding project.
Here’s an in-depth guide to using caulk and weatherstripping for energy savings.
Not confident in your ability to weatherstrip? Watch this Step by Step How To Video on installing weatherstripping.
Cool Your Roof
Not a cheap solution by any means, but those in the market for a new roof should consider this reflective asphalt shingles from CertainTeed Corporation. The Landmark Solaris™ shingles can lower the roof’s surface temperature by 20 percent, reducing demand on the home’s AC. Read more about the shingles.
Tune up Your AC
Just like your car or washing machine, the home’s AC units need regular maintenance and tuning to work efficiently. And few things can be such a drain on the home’s energy like an untuned AC.
Take some time out before the heat waves start coming to get your AC working at optimal levels.
Install Programmable Thermostats
It’s pretty much common knowledge that the installation of a programmable thermostat can do wonders for reducing the home’s energy bills. They are the home’s “set it and forget it” device, enabling you to program cooling scenarios over the home’s 24 hours, eliminating the energy-wasting forgetfulness that leads to the unnecessary–and unwanted–cooling of the home.
Installing a programmable thermostat isn’t rocket science. Although you are dealing with the home’s electrical system, this can be a perfectly safe DIY job for even the most novice of homeowners. Follow this step by step How To Video on installing a programmable thermostat and you’ll be on your way to cheaper cooling.
Once it’s in, don’t forget to use it! A programmable thermostat is only effective if you properly program it. Here’s a valuable resource on how to effectively program your thermostat for maximum savings.
Control Solar Heat Gain
Windows make our homes look beautiful and they afford us beautiful views of our yards and our neighborhoods, but they can also be serious culprits behind our home’s solar heat gains.
Controlling the solar heat gain through a window can be achieved a number of ways. A more expensive route could involve replacing old windows with more energy efficient models (while cashing in on the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, of course) which would include low-e coatings for a lower solar heat gain coefficient.
Less expensive routes including installation of shades, curtains or even exterior awnings to curtail the solar heat gain through the windows.
Whatever method you choose, addressing this major source of heat gain will help keep your home cool this summer.
Photo courtesy of Sandra Saft, Window Interiors.