As humans, we all need heat. Had it not been for the sun, our planet would be empty of humanity, devoid of the billions of human lives that now flourish under the medium-sized star. The sun has been a symbol of hope for many of us — we look forward to a sunny morning when we wake up.
Without the sun, we’d have no visual of the moon as the latter only reflects from the light of the former. Worse, plants would die. People may be able to survive a sun-less Earth for some time but are highly likely to go the way of the dinosaurs: mass extinction.
Unfortunately, for millions of Americans during this sweltering hot summer, the sun plays more the villainous role rather than a good friend. Already, there’s an observed increase in the number of deaths as the heat pounds us. In Seattle, WA alone, there’s a 10% increase in all-cause mortality risks when heat waves hit.
Lucky for you, there are tried-and-tested ways you can reduce the seething hot temperature in your home this summer. Even better, you can do so while spending less on the AC. Welcome to the wonderful world of natural shading. It’s cheap. It’s totally viable. And best of all, it’s effective.
You may not have heard much about it but shading is hands down the most effective to counter the summer heat. In the process, you minimize energy consumption.
On regular days, know that air conditioning (AC) can suck up to 1/6th of the country’s overall power. But that’s not all. The sweltering summer can consume nearly half or 43% of America’s power load. By any measure, that’s a lot of electricity wasted.
But shading can be a huge factor in countering such wasteful consumption. It can lower up to 40% of your cooling costs if you play it right.
Natural foliage can be used to provide shade to your precious abode and reduce the monthly bills in the process. Moreover, shrubs and even trees can be utilized to shade AC units so long as the airflow is not blocked.
You really can’t underestimate the power of trees to save you from mounting power bills. According to the U S. Department of Energy, it takes but three trees positioned well to save as much as $100 to $250 in yearly energy costs. For best results, trees need to be placed at the west side and the south corner of your property.
If you plan to plant trees, go for deciduous trees. That’s because they shade during the hot summer months yet allow needed radiant heat to go through in the winter. And yes, these trees are tall enough to give you the shade you need.
Vines are a blessing. They grow quickly and get you the cooling and shading you need. To be effective, provide trellises on the hottest side of your house. Also, place it 6 inches from the wall to provide ample buffer or cool air.
If you want a good variety, clematis along with wisteria are the best choices. They grow well inside containers, perfect if you’re space-challenged.
They may not be as tall as trees but they can hold their own to cool you in the hot summer. To do that, position them at the lower portion of your walls. This way they can block sunlight best. As much as possible, choose shrubs that grow to more or less fixed heights and are of low maintenance.
Make sure the roots of your trees and shrubs don’t get in the way of your underground wires or septic tanks and sewer lines.
In addition, place your rock walls, rock features and paved areas away from your south and west sides as these radiate the heat of the sun, warming you even more.
Windows, Blinds and Drapes
Make sure you have curtains and drapes made of light-colored fabrics. They can reflect much of the rays of the sun reducing heat gain in the process. The tighter your curtain gets to the wall, the more efficient it is in reducing incoming heat. For best results, use two-layered drapes.
Blinds can also reflect the sun’s heat but they’re not as effective as drapes. The good thing is they can be adjusted to let some light in. Let the more reflective side of your blinds face outwards.
Don rsquo;t forget windows though. Energy-efficient windows are a key consideration for any property. It is estimated heat gain or heat loss via windows accounts for as much as 25% to 30% of residential cooling and heating. That said, if you can’t improve their overall efficiency, it surely makes sense to hire window replacement services to reduce energy loss and make your precious abode more comfortable.
Then, there are sunscreens, also dubbed as ‘shade cloths’ or ‘solar shields’. Specifically, they protect your windows from the sun. You can have these installed on windows that are exposed directly to the hot sun. Even better, they’re light and easy to install.
The downside is you can’t see much outside the window. But that’s alright. The important thing is your precious abode is not being fried by the sun. On the contrary, it’s as cool as you need it to be.