3 Imaginative Ways To Solve Your Residential Cooling Issues

As a homeowner, you've probably exuded your share of sweat trying to figure out how to keep your house consistently comfortable without burning up your energy budget. But what can you do beyond the standard steps of adding insulation, drawing your blinds, or just suffering through the summers? Here are three more imaginative solutions that just might bring your personal energy crisis to a welcome close.

1. Consider an Air Conditioner Replacement Featuring a Smaller (But More Efficient) Unit

If you purchased a less-than-new home, you can expect it to contain a less-than-new HVAC unit. The relative energy efficiency of such systems has gone up dramatically over the past several years, thanks to the creation of designs that adhere to the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR standards. This means you might benefit by scrapping that old unit, even if it still runs as it always has, in favor of a newer design. The EPA states that proper installation of a new unit may reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent.

By the way, don't assume that bigger equals better where air conditioning units are concerned. In fact, an overly-large HVAC unit not only takes more power to run than a smaller unit, but it will also "short-cycle" on and off in a manner that wastes energy. Ask your home AC installation expert to evaluate your home's heating and cooling requirements so you can buy a unit of the proper size.

2. Give Your Roof an Amazing (And Energy-Efficient) New Look

The roof of your home naturally absorbs a considerable amount of thermal energy on sunny days. This energy has to go somewhere—and it typically penetrates the roof to heat up your attic, making the whole house harder to cool. This is especially true if you live in a hot, sunny part of the country such as the Southwest. But did you know that merely changing the color of your roof can have a major impact on how much of that thermal energy makes its way into your life (and onto your electric bill)? Light-colored shingles or tiles will reflect much of the sun's radiation back into the sky. This reflectivity can make your roof 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than if you have dark-colored roofing installed. So think about how a light-colored roof might complement your home's current color scheme—or change the color scheme to accommodate a light-colored roof.

Do you live in (or rent to tenants) a building with a flat roof? If so, you could do both your utility bills and the environment a big favor by creating a "green roof." These roofs boast a thick carpet of lush grasses and other green plants. The vegetation cools the roof surface and the air around it, making it up to an astonishing 90 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than an ordinary flat roof. It also absorbs UV rays that might otherwise shorten the roof's lifespan. This means you'll always have a cool, outdoor, energy-efficient haven, even on hot days—not to mention owning the most remarkable roof in town.

3. Have Fun With Window Film

Windows allow sunlight and thermal energy to pour into your home, raising temperatures dramatically, unless you respond with some kind of insulation strategy. If you don't want to equip your windows with expensive blinds, curtains, or double-pane glass, turn to window film as an energy-saving option. Window film products stick to windows via either mild adhesives or static cling, reducing the amount of incoming UV rays, heat, and visible light that pass through. They also come in a variety of tints and darknesses, allowing you to choose the shade that best suits your home's overall style and your personal taste.

Would you prefer a more colorful approach than solid, uniform panels of window film? If you'd like to have some fun your windows while still enjoying improved energy efficiency and comfort, you're in luck. Window film comes in a variety of patterns other than solid colors, including some beautiful stained glass styles. You could even cut pieces from different solid tints and arrange them in your window panes for a unique expression of your personal creativity.

Put your imagination to work by trying these simple yet effective residential cooling strategies. With any luck, you'll discover just how comfortable your home can truly be!