Want to beat the sweltering summer weather? Cranking up the AC isn’t the answer, especially if you’d rather not exchange the high temperatures for massive power bills. Upgrading your home in pursuit of enhanced energy efficiency, on the other hand, is a great way to stay cool without breaking the bank.
How can home improvement make your abode more welcoming when the sun is beating down hard? Try these clever DIY hacks to redefine how you relate to rough weather.
Exterior Improvements for Cooler Interiors
Many exterior DIY improvements can help produce more moderate temperatures indoors. The best time to tackle these projects is before it gets too hot, so what are you waiting for?
Build a Green Wall
A green wall is a wall that features living vegetation. Since plants survive by being efficient sunlight absorbers, they’re great at soaking up the rays that would otherwise heat up your home. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, green walls can have huge positive impacts on living conditions. Some lower temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius, or about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and they may lower your energy bills by as much as 23 percent. They’re also great at blocking noise, sucking up pollution and improving privacy.
Even better, there are many tools for creating green walls, including permanent hangers that sit directly on existing walls and arbor-like structures that serve as trellises for vines. When building your green wall, remember to:
- Try to plan the whole project out before you start digging and seeding,
- Choose a structure or design that can withstand your local wind and weather,
- Consider self-watering upright garden kits, palettes with hanging planters, self-supporting vertical gardens and other commercially available DIY options,
- Pick native or well-adapted plants that require minimal care to keep alive, such as herbs and groundcovers, and
- Manage drainage carefully to prevent water from accumulating around your home’s foundation.
Plant More Vegetation
Grow your own veggies! Certain vegetation can serve the same purpose as a green wall without all of the extra planning. For instance, if you live in dry regions, such as the deserts of Southern California or Arizona, you might plant shrubs like oleander, which is known for forming hardy hedges that can survive abuse and thrive in near-drought conditions.
Flex That Green Thumb
If you’re a gardener, then you can choose plants that fill your fridge and offer shade. For instance, cucumbers, squashes, melons, tomatoes and other fast growers can quickly branch out to block heat and light, keeping your home cool. This technique is particularly useful with raised beds, but if you’d rather not bother with replanting each spring, you can still do nicely with various elevated shade plants, such as primrose, lady’s mantle, spurge or fountain grass.
Go Even Bigger
Planting trees is also a smart move. Check your local garden center to find species that spread rapidly and are easy to prune, such as crepe myrtles or eucalyptuses. Although you’ll have to wait a year or two for these attractive shade-givers to get established, they’re well worth it in the long run.
Upgrade Your Building Envelope
You don’t necessarily have to replace all of your siding or roofing to beat the heat. Instead of attempting these expensive, stressful upgrades, you might get away with refinishing whichever exterior walls are the most exposed to the weather. For instance, some vendors sell heat-resistant exterior wall paint or insulating additives that you can mix into your favorite exterior colors to help reflect heat away from surfaces like wood and brick and keep them cool.
Keeping Things Nice and Cool Indoors
Don’t feel like subjecting yourself to the outdoors? Try some of these interior improvements to make your life a bit cooler.
Hang Thermal Curtains or Blackout Shades
The benefits of blackout curtains is clear…they help block infrared radiation that would usually pass through your windows and heat up the interior of your home. They’re relatively easy to install, and they come in a spectrum of colors and materials that make them ideal for any aspiring interior designer who wants to spruce up their surroundings. What’s more, these curtains are equally at home on patio doors and other notorious household hot spots.
When hanging thermal curtains, remember that some may be slightly heavier than standard window treatments are. Although the difference isn’t usually that extreme, it’s wise to check your mounting hardware. As with hanging any curtain, you should ensure that your brackets are firmly fixed to the wall beforehand.
Customize Your Shades
Installing blackout shades is another great way to upgrade your window coverings for improved heat blockage. Since they’re available in a wide range of dark, paper-like materials, they make great canvases for DIY art projects. With little more than a bit of inexpensive, non-toxic paint and a lazy weekend, you can give your kids something constructive to do — Let them personalize their shades. Pre-made stencils are a perfect choice for clean, fashionable designs.
Open Some Space with Spring Cleaning
Air circulation is massively helpful when you’re trying to avoid heat buildup. Clearing up the clutter around your house ensures that your AC or fan doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you prefer. By letting air circulate freely, you’ll also feel more cool and comfortable and less prone to crank up the dial. Cleaning dust and debris also prevents it from getting sucked into intake vents and clogging filters, which might significantly lower your AC’s cooling efficiency.
Rearrange Your Household Electronics
It’s common for North American homes to develop “hot sides” due to the position of the sun during the summer months. The way you arrange certain electronics and appliances, like computers and clothes dryers, might make such tendencies even more extreme. If possible, reposition these items so that they take advantage of naturally cool areas in your building and don’t exhaust hot air into living spaces.
How are you planning on conquering the summer heat? Did we miss any of your favorite DIY tricks? Stay tuned for more great tips on keeping your surroundings comfortable year round.