Summer Friendly Curb Appeal: 7 Keys to Reducing Cooling Costs
It’s only a matter of time before these breezy and comfortable spring afternoons turn into hot and humid summer days. Before you know it, our electricity usage will spike trying to keep the hot summer heat out of our homes!
Many homeowners already know of the countless ways they can be more energy efficient inside of their homes, but have you ever thought about what you can do to keep things cool inside by making wise choices outside?
Not only will these seven curb appeal ideas improve the looks of your home from the outside, they’ll also help to keep the bills down throughout the summer:
1. Use Dark Groundcover
Believe it or not, light-colored stone or granite mulch will reflect more heat back onto your home while darker stone and wood chips will absorb the heat.
2. Plant Trees Strategically
Trees offer an obvious benefit to your home – shade. The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less; in 15 years the savings could be nearly 12%.
A few things to consider when planting new trees on your property:
- Blocking direct sun from inside - You should place trees where they’ll shade your windows, especially those on the south and west sides, from direct sunlight.
- Funneling breezes – By planting a row of trees on one side of the house with a wall on the other side of the house, you can create a wind tunnel. This will encourage stronger cooling breezes through the property and around your home.
- Protecting your HVAC system – Planting a flowering tree or shrub near your unit not only improves the aesthetics but can also increase the life of the compressor. The shade reduces the strain on the unit caused by operating it for long periods of time. Just ensure your landscaping isn’t blocking any air vents.
PRO TIP: Take care to plant new trees away from power lines and other obstructions that may get in their way as they grow.
Species of Tree
Try to plant trees with high, spreading leaves and branches to provide the best shade. Deciduous trees are a great option as they block direct sun during hot weather but allow sunlight to filter through during cooler weather once their branches are bare.
3. Consider Building a Pergola, Ramada or Awning
When you build a shade-giving structure on the west side of your home, you filter the direct light hitting your home during the hottest part of the day. An open structure, like a vine covered pergola, is ideal as it allows cool breezes through and doesn’t trap heat.
4. Install a Water Feature
A water feature is a beautiful way to improve your home's curb appeal while cooling your property. A large pond upwind will cool the air of your whole landscape considerably; while a small pond or fountain can cool a smaller area.
5. Add Decorative Vines to Your Landscaping Plan
You can control intense sun that hits a particular window by planting annual vines. Create a trellis of galvanized wire or build one of wood to surround or even cover the window.
Some deciduous vines you might consider include a sweet autumn clematis, scarlet running bean or morning glories.
6. Invest in a Light-Colored Roof
Whether you paint your current roof or install a new roof that is needed anyways, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that high reflective roofing can be up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than more traditional dark roofing options.
7. Install Window Canopies or Shades
Similar to deciduous vines, window canopies and shades can help protect your home from direct sunlight. Awnings have come a long way in the last few years. Durable polyvinyl chloride and other synthetic materials help make newer awnings more resilient to mold and mildew. Retractable awnings are also a popular choice, especially for windy locations.
If you experience intense heat in your home during the summer, it might be time to consider some of the above landscaping ideas to help ease your mind (and your pocketbook!).