With warmer weather upon us, tackling energy efficiency while keeping your home cool is a hot topic. In hot weather, you risk high energy bills due to overworking your A/C. However, there are a few things you can do to relieve the load on your A/C and your bank account and improve energy efficiency during the long, hot days of summer.
The number one thing you should do to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to ensure your home is properly insulated. Without proper insulation, any efforts to cool your home are being thwarted by the pressure of outside heat. Insulating not only keeps the cooler air inside your home, it means your A/C works less. Conversely, insulating can keep warm air inside in the winter months too, reducing your heating load. Make sure attics and walls are insulated and that cracks, gaps, and holes are sealed, keeping air from escaping or letting warm air (and insects, pollen, and rodents) in. Air sealing is easy, inexpensive, and you can do it yourself. Learn what to look for here and how to install weather stripping here.
Blocking the intense daytime sun is a great strategy for keeping the heat outside your home. Use curtains or other shade systems on your windows to keep the heat from entering the house. Consider shade sails or a covered pergola on the side of your home that is exposed to the most sunlight during the summer.
Overhangs that provide shade on southern windows can reduce the sun’s impact in the summer, too. When done properly, these overhangs will shade the home in the summer, keeping out heat but allowing warming sunlight in during the winter when the sun is lower on the horizon. They can be a very effective way to passively cool and warm the home. In fact, according to energy.gov, “Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows.” Their article has plenty of ideas for window coverings that can help keep your home comfortable.
A reflective roof can keep your home cooler by repelling sun rays. If you’re in a year-round hot zone, a reflective or light-colored roof is a good idea. Painting the exterior of your house a lighter color can help reduce heat absorption, too.
Stagnant air heats up quicker and can feel uncomfortable and muggy. Fans and A/C are great ways to keep your interior spaces cool during the day.
While we always recommend sealing gaps and cracks to avoid unwanted thermal exchange and uncontrolled loss of energy, opening and closing windows can be a good tool to control your air temperature. If there is a significant drop in temperature at night, consider opening windows (with screens, of course, to keep out bugs and pests) and letting air blow across the home. Close them in the morning when the temperature starts rising to keep the cool air inside. Use your A/C or fans during the day when windows are closed and covered.
In the warmer months, your fan should be moving in a counterclockwise position to push air downward and across the space.
To check to see what way your fan blades are rotating, stand under the fan while it’s running. If they are moving clockwise, you should reverse the direction.
First, turn your fan off. Make sure the blades have come to a complete stop. Look at the motor housing (the center of the fan, below the blades) for the reversal switch. Toggle it in the opposite direction to get the fan to rotate counterclockwise. This will push air downward, moving it throughout the room.
This Home Depot video shows you how to reverse your fan for 30% savings on your energy bills during the summer.
Many of our appliances emit heat in the home, like dishwashers, dryers, ovens, and stoves. If you are interested in keeping your home cool and reducing the energy load needed to accomplish that, consider hang-drying your clothes. Dryers use heat to dry clothes, and in the summer months, the sun can just as effectively dry your clothes, too, without heating up your home.
Cooking dinner is a similar activity that can heat up your home, but you don’t have to stick to cold meals. Consider grilling more. Grilling is not just for parties and family barbeques; it’s also a good way to avoid adding heat to your home in the summer, even on weekday nights. Avoid the stove and oven during the summer and keep the heat outside by doing your cooking with the grill. It’s a delicious solution.
Finding ways to keep cool air inside and hot air out during the summer makes your home more comfortable and energy efficient. A lot of these strategies can help reduce your electric bill and keep your home a few degrees cooler. It can save you expensive A/C repairs too, by reducing the stress you’re putting on your equipment, making it last longer and perform better.
If you take some time before the heat hits to prep your home, you’ll stay cool and run on less electricity this summer.