In the dog days of summer, air conditioning bills can go through the roof. And heating and cooling units can take a serious toll on the environment; the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that such units emit a half billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Fortunately, there are several eco-friendly ways to combat the sweltering sun without shelling out for AC. Follow these simple steps and you'll have it made in the shade.
Plant a Tree
It's a long-term project, but a full-grown tree can be a great air conditioner. When planting trees, consider which direction your yard faces. If it faces south, opt for deciduous trees. Their wide and thick canopies are perfect for shading your house in the summertime, and because they lose their leaves when the temperature drops, the sun can still warm your home in the wintertime. Evergreen trees, which maintain their foliage year round, are recommended for north-facing yards to break cold winter winds.
When planting your tree, remember to give it room to grow, as a little sapling can turn into a giant. Plant your deciduous tree 10 to 20 feet away from your house, so when it reaches mature height, it'll provide a large and effective swath of shade. Plant your evergreens in a row, about 15 feet apart. Because they provide wind protection for up to 20 times their height, you can plant them a greater distance from your house.
Trellises not only serve as attractive and elegant additions to your outdoor aesthetic; they also provide great shade. While trees may take years to grow, trellises—and the deciduous vines you plant around them—can get the job done in relatively no time at all. Grape and wisteria vines grow like wildfire and shed their leaves in the winter to allow the sun's heat to warm your home. Here's a great step-by-step guide on how to build your own trellises.
The most important feature of an awning is its drop. The drop is the distance between the top of the awning and the base of the window. (The higher the drop, the more shade an awning will provide.) A drop of 60 percent or more is suggested for windows that are frequently exposed to sun. These sun-shielding awnings can save energy by dropping indoor temperatures by as much as 15 degrees fahrenheit. Check out cheapawnings.com to find an awning that matches your home's style.
Windows on the east and west side of home naturally let in a lot of sunlight, which can raise indoor temperatures. However, window manufacturers offer heat-reflective films and coatings for windows that still allow natural light inside while keeping your home cool. As a bonus, these films can retain up to 55 percent of your home's heat during the wintertime.
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All