Even though the easiest solution to a summer heatwave is to turn the A/C on full-blast, there are more economical ways to get your cool on.
Service your A/C unit.
If you do plan on running the A/C, have it services by a reputable company like Berkeley so that it runs at peak performance.
Cleaning the HVAC ducts, insulating the unit and ducts, and making sure debris is cleared from the compressor will help you cut down on the energy used, while improving the amount of cold air the unit pushes into the home.
Cover your windows with reflective material.
Did yo know you can buy shiny reflective material for your home’s windows? The material acts like low-e coatings on high-end window systems, reflecting sun away from the house. You can also do something similar with tin foil. The downside, of course, is that you can’t see through it.
Low-e coatings are another option for existing windows.
Use insulating curtains or blinds.
If you want to be able to see out of your windows, use those insulating ones at department stores or your local Wal-Mart. These types of drapes are thick, have an insulating or reflective layer in the middle and reduce heat transfer (called “passive solar gain”).
Paint your roof white.
This is an option that’s a little more labor-intensive, but it pays off. A study done by a non-profit organization showed that painting the roof white made the inside of the building 25%cooler, on average, than buildings with dark roofs. This can result in a significant energy savings. If you have a white roof, you may not be able to replace all of the shingles, but you may be able to paint the roof itself.
Seal all air leaks.
This is a little time-consuming, but it pays off. Most people spend ridiculous amounts of time sealing up their home for winter, but they neglect the same kind of effort in the summertime. Sealing up cracks and crevices around the edges of windows and doors is effective at keeping cool air in and hot air out.
Install newer insulation.
If your insulation is blown-in, consider redoing it if it’s several years old. That stuff settles, and you’d be surprised by how much. If you’ve got fiberglass insulation, consider upgrading to spray foam – probably the best on the market. Make sure that the insulation raises your home’s R-value significantly, or else you won’t be getting the savings that you think you should.
Hang white towels over windows.
This is a cheap and easy way to save money. Hang white towels over your windows using a curtain rod. The white is lighter and will help reflect more heat away from the window, keeping your home cooler.
Open doors and windows at night.
When the sun goes down, open the doors and windows to let all that accumulated warm air out. In older homes, this is especially important, since older houses tend not to be as insulated or efficient as newer homes.
By keeping the windows open at night, you also get some fresh air into the house. A nice breeze could help you reduce your reliance on your A/C.
Evaluate attic R-value.
Aside from insulating the walls of your home, you should check the R-value of the attic. Most attics have blown insulation in them, but some don’t. If you have an older home, it might not be as insulated as you think.
Jamie McLeod is a property investor. He enjoys writing about his experiences with home improvement. His posts are available mostly on homeowner and family blog sites.