Design tricks to cool your home the greener way
It can be hot and stuffy in the summer months but the high electricity use involved in air conditioning means the carbon emissions are particularly harmful to the environment. By making a few simple changes around the home you can keep it cool, and do your bit for the planet while cutting down on cost.
Get busy in the garden
Think of life pre-air conditioning and you will discover a whole host of clever and natural tricks to keep your home cool. A tree, for example, is as sophisticated as any electronic device: it lets the sun through in winter and grows leaves in summer to block it out. The trick is knowing where to plant a tree to get the most benefits. Research shows you must plant trees on the south and west side of a house, and no more than 60 feet away for full cooling benefits. By doing this you could lower your utility bills by about 5% between May and September.
Invest in Awnings
Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows. Translating to a 26% energy cost saving in hotter climates and up to 33% saving in more temperate climes. In addition to saving money and energy, awnings can also prevent your furniture, curtains, and carpets from fading and make a nice design feature for your home.
Add a bit of color
Light roofs reflect UV rays in much the same way as ice and snow, thereby keeping your home cool and protecting the planet. Research shows that by painting your roof white, you can considerably offset CO2 emissions. Dark flat roofs, for example, have a typical solar reflectance of 10%-20% that can be increased to as much as 70%-80%, by using white materials. It is estimated that for a house with 1000 ft2 of roof area (or a non-residential building), the CO2 emission offset is 10 tons.
By going back to basics and making a few home changes you can keep your place cool, while cutting energy costs and protecting the planet.