Prepare your home for summer weather
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 by Keith Bahlmann
Cooling your home in summer can be an expensive prospect, especially as temperatures soar well above comfort level. But don't sweat it. Experts say you can dra matically lower your energy bills and stay comfortable too.
"There are a number of easy adjustments and upgrades, at all price points, that can save you energy and money this summer," says Mark Demerly, President of Demerly Architects, and chair of the American Institute of Architects' Custom Residential Architects Network.
To help get you started, Demerly offers some timely advice:
The roof of your home acts as an absorbent. It's therefore critical to release heat from your roof so that it doesn't come into the house instead, says Demerly. Proper insulation will prevent heat from coming in, and a sound ventilation system will help get rid of build-up.
Start by checking to see if your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Eave vents, ridge vents, and roof venting materials can help push heat out. Consider adding solar-paneled or wind-driven vent pipes, as these will act to pull hot air out of the attic. This upgrade is useful year-round, as insulation helps retain heat as well.
Windows are critical to keeping your home cool, Demerly says. Keep them open when temperatures are moderate and there's low humidity. Natural ventilation is free!
Install a window fan facing outward — pushing air out, not in — and open the windows on the opposite side of the house to exhaust the hot air out, and pull in cooler outside air. Also, consider using a house fan for the attic, to move more fresh air into your entire home.
Reflect heat out of the house for a larger, yet cost-effective measure by installing window films. You might also consider replacing old windows with a modern energy-efficient option made of insulated glass matched with Low-E coatings and argon gasses. Be aware that casement and awning windows minimize air infiltration better than double hung windows.
Basic Home Maintenance
Some additional steps you can take to reduce cooling costs include:
Paint your house a lighter, more reflective color.
If you have a flat roof, consider a lighter colored membrane covering, such as Thermoplastic PolyOlefin (TPO), to reflect light. Green roofs, which cover and insulate the surface from heat, can also be applied to exiting flat roofs.
Install more high-efficient air units or alternative systems, like geothermal systems, to provide cost savings.
Plant trees around your home to shade your house in summer and cool the air.
An architect can help you apply many of these cost-saving initiatives. To find one in your area, visit: http://architectfinder.aia.org/.
While improving your home's energy efficiency will save you money in the long run, avoid spending a fortune on the upgrades. "Remember, tax credits exist for many of these ideas, so be sure to look into them before starting any project," Demerly adds.
A few actions you take now can help you lower your energy costs all summer. Get started today for a cool, comfortable season.