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 dramatically lower your energy bills and stay comfortable too.
"There are a number of easy adjustments and upgrades that can save you energy and money this summer," says Mark Demerly, chairman 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. Proper insulation will prevent heat from coming in, and a sound ventilation system will help get rid of heat build-up.
Windows are critical to keeping your home cool. Keep them open when temperatures are moderate. 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.
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.
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, 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.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.