The dog days of summer are here, and throughout South Florida air conditioners are cranked right up or families are heading out to the beach, the pool or anywhere where there is a nice shady spot to cool down and chill out.
For homeowners, this is a good time to chill out your home, improving its summer livability while also cutting down on expensive air conditioning bills.
Cool Exterior - Roofs
There are several approaches to making a ‘cool roof’ or adapting an existing one to improve its reflectance. For new builds, or if planning to replace a roof, consider going with a ‘cool roof’ and discuss the possibilities for your particular house with your contractor. A great number of new products and styles are available, from single-ply or bitumen sheet membranes to shingles pre-coated before installation. Cool roofs are not necessarily more expensive and they have the big advantage of helping to lower electricity costs by reflecting sunlight so absorbing less heat.
Existing roofs can be coated with reflective coatings, usually in white or very pale colors. These coatings help protect the roof from UV damage, harsh weather conditions, extend the life of the roof and help reduce electricity costs. The coatings are available for various types of roofs, including concrete and metal roofs.
Shade the Windows
Windows and sliding glass doors can let in a great deal of heat and there are a number of ways to cut down on this heat source. Awnings came in various styles and can be an attractive addition to a house. New designs include synthetic materials that resist mold and mildew. For maximum sun shade effect, add awnings to west and south facing doors and windows. Shutters are another good option and these have the added benefit of providing protection against storms and hurricanes. A third option is to apply window films which are available in various plain or decorative finishes.
It is also important to shade the windows indoors with curtains or blinds to both keep the sun out and keep the cool air in. It has been estimated that 30% of cooling or heating energy escapes through windows. Keep curtains and blinds drawn during the day and keep them drawn in rooms that are not in use.
In the garden, plant shade trees near the house and introduce a pond, fountain or other water feature to add to the perception of a cool, restful garden. But keep the area around the air conditioner condenser clear of shrubs and debris.
For a cool interior – declutter and opt for cool colors in paint and furnishings and natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen and bamboo for rugs, curtains and bedlinens. Getting rid of clutter, particularly unused or broken items can help in opening up more space in each room making for improved airflow throughout the house.
Ceiling fans should be switched to rotate counter-clockwise and replace incandescent bulbs, which generate heat with LED bulbs. A humidifier is a good investment to rid the air of excess moisture which can make the indoor air quality humid. For homes with pets, the humidifier has the added benefit of removing allergens and odors.
House plants are natural aerators, cleaning and filtering the air and, along with small fountains or other water features, are purported to be good feng shui, promoting pleasant feelings of calm and balance.
When the temperatures outside are soaring, what better way to enjoy the summer than in your delightfully cool, energy efficient South Florida home.