Keep Your Home Cool in the Summer and Reduce Your Bills
Summer is almost here, and with it comes the heat, which means higher home cooling expenditures. It’s tempting to turn on the air conditioner to beat the heat or sit in front of the nearest fan, but doing so might be expensive in the long run. Here are some suggestions for keeping your home cool this summer while also saving money.
INSTALL ONE OR MORE AWNING
Awnings are a good option for homeowners who wish to save money on their air conditioning and protect their indoor furniture from the sun’s intense glare. By installing permanent, retractable, or exterior drop shades to your windows, you may save money on air conditioning while also improving the appearance of your home.
According to a Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA) survey, fixed or retractable awnings can dramatically reduce a home’s air conditioning demand in the summer, saving an estimated $200 or more yearly. The sun’s rays passing through windows account for about 20% of the load on your air conditioner. Awnings block direct sunlight from entering via windows. Awnings save money for homes and help reduce energy demand, making them an environmentally friendly option for those worried about greenhouse gas emissions.
Awnings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including portable, fixed, and retractable models. The latter has the advantage of being able to fold up in the winter, allowing the sun’s rays to permeate through windows and glass doors, lowering energy consumption by adding to the internal temperature. Some motorized retractable awnings can be retracted or extended with the touch of a button. A simple pulley-and-cord system is used in manual styles.
Awnings typically have multiple settings, allowing them to be opened partially, entirely, or halfway. Awnings can be attractive, especially because homeowners can select from various fashionable fabrics (woven, coated, laminated, and more) and color schemes (solids, stripes, and patterns). Water-repellent, soil- and stain-resistant treatments are applied to the majority of awning textiles. A flame retardant is used for some of them. Awning frames are most commonly made of galvanized steel or aluminum.
Automating your window awnings also offers the added benefit of allowing you to program when your window coverings open and close (which outweighs the cost of the automation). Some even allow you to program dawn and sunset times! 75% of people keep their window coverings in the same position all day. Still, if you have automatic window coverings, even simply certain ones, you can relax knowing that by the time the sun reaches that west-facing window, the blinds will be closed for you without you having to raise a finger.
Summer heat gain is reduced more effectively by vertical or horizontal slat-type window blinds than winter heat loss. It’s challenging to limit heat loss through inside window blinds because of the numerous spaces between the slats, but the slats provide flexibility in the summer. You can adjust the slats to limit glare, light, and solar heat gain, unlike shades.
Highly reflecting blinds can limit heat gain when entirely closed and lowered on a sunny window. Blinds with horizontal slats can also be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling. A light-colored ceiling diffuses light without causing excessive heat or glare, allowing you to take advantage of more natural daylighting.
If you install blinds, you can save yourself additional money with a straightforward trick: close your blinds. Your windows can emit up to 30% of unwanted heat, and using shades, curtains, and other window treatments can save you up to 7% on energy bills while also lowering indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees. In other words, covering the blinds prevents your home from becoming a miniature greenhouse, which is especially true for windows facing south and west.
SHADES AND SHUTTERS
Fabric, wood, steel, aluminum, and vinyl are common materials used for exterior shutters and drop shades. They work best when it comes to limiting solar heat gain. Fabric or vinyl shades are most commonly used, and the material may have gaps that allow for some vision through the window. The more gaps there are, the less protection from solar gain there is. They are typically controlled by hand, though some awnings can be opened and closed with a crank from within the house.
Roller shutters are typically installed above the window, with side channels that guide them as they are lowered and elevated. When you drop these blinds, the slats meet and give shade, privacy, security, and storm protection. You can partially raise the blinds to allow some light and air into the room.
Most external shutter systems contain a mechanical crank, rod, or motor to allow operation from inside. This can encourage people to utilize the shutters daily, and local fire laws may require it.
SOLAR WINDOW SCREENS
Solar screens can help to limit heat gain, UV damage, and glare from the sun. They can be fitted as roller shades or permanent panels on the inside or outside, and they usually allow for a view out the window and light transmission. They have a similar appearance to traditional insect screens, but they are more efficient.
The openness factor on solar screens varies and impacts the efficiency benefits; more openness reduces glare and solar heat gain protection while increasing visibility and light transmission.
EXTERIOR WINDOW FILMS
Solar heat gain is reduced, and glare and ultraviolet exposure are reduced, thanks to window films. Because they also block the sun’s heat in the winter, they’re best employed in climates with long cooling seasons.
They can help homeowners who don’t want to restrict vistas with other window treatments yet are concerned about glare and solar heat gain. They’re also a fantastic alternative for windows that are difficult to dress with traditional window coverings, especially in areas where UV exposure might degrade artwork, furniture, or carpets.
An adhesive layer that lies against the glass, a polyester film layer, and a scratch-resistant coating is the three layers that most films have. You can also add colors, UV blockers, or thicker security films to your security film. Low-end films are also becoming more popular as a way to save energy.
CURTAINS AND DRAPES
Drapes reach all the way to the floor, whereas curtains are internal cloth attachments that are sized to fit the window. The effectiveness of drapery to prevent heat loss and gain is influenced by several elements, including fabric type (closed or open weave) and color. It’s difficult to make broad statements about the energy efficiency of draperies because they come in such a wide range of styles.
To avoid heat gain on hot summer days, close curtains on windows that receive direct sunshine. According to studies, medium-colored drapes with white plastic backings can cut heat gain by 33%. Most traditional drapes can minimize heat loss from a warm room by up to 10% when drawn during cold weather. As a result, in the winter, all draperies should be closed at night, and any drapes that do not get sunlight during the day.
Blackout curtains block the sun’s rays, thereby insulating the rooms in which they’re used. Neutral-colored drapes with white plastic backings, according to Consumer Reports, can minimize heat input by up to 33%.
RUN YOUR APPLIANCES IN THE EVENING
Many of us drop a load of laundry in the washer or start the dishwasher early in the day, so those chores can be done by evening, but the heat these machines generate has to go someplace, and that place is your home. If it doesn’t disturb your sleep, you can run the device before bed instead, transferring the extra heat to a period when your house is already colder. You could even hang your items to dry instead of using the dryer to avoid excess heat.
Leaving lights or appliances on all day, such as computers or televisions, generates a lot of heat. Turning off anything you aren’t using saves you money on your utility costs twice over. If you have children, remember that gaming consoles generate heat, making sure they switch them off entirely rather than just putting them to sleep.
MAINTAIN YOUR A/C UNIT
Regular maintenance is one of the most effective strategies to increase your system’s energy efficiency. This effort will also keep you from having any unforeseen breakdowns. It’s an opportunity to spot any problems before becoming more extensive and more costly, all while increasing performance.
Many furnaces feature a continuous fan option that is typically utilized in the winter. Still, if you can keep it running during the summer, it will help keep the cool air in your home moving so your downstairs doesn’t freeze as your A/C works to cool off the warmer upstairs. It also makes the air feel cleaner overall.
It’s also essential to keep the fan on your air conditioner clean and clear. If it needs to work harder, it will bill you for the extra time, and the same is true for your washer and dryer. Not only is it vital to keep the lint trap clean and clear to avoid fires, but the clearer the entire line is, the more heat escapes your home. However, make sure to clear out the vent that allows air to depart your home as well — it can collect lint, trap heat within your home, and catch fire.