Shade your windows and walls. Shade also your roofs, if possible and if does not preclude the installation of solar (photovoltaic or thermal) systems. Your cooling needs will be greatly reduced.
The shade of trees and vegetation, or the shade provided by overhangs, awnings and other devices is critical for a successful cooling strategy and lower energy costs in hot and mixed climates.
Do not underestimate the importance of shade in home cooling.
Vegetation provides shade and evapo-transpiration that can reduce temperatures at the ground level or on the roof and walls, by dozens of degrees.
And devices as shades, awnings, pergolas and shutters can also be very effective...
Do not forget that the energy consumption of our homes is mostly determined - in what concerns cooling - by preventing overheating. That creates the conditions to get by with little or no air conditioning.
Shade, ventilation and home design elements (overhangs, the shape of the house and homesiting) are very important for energy savings and comfort.
In single-family homes, consider shading your roof using a tree (or trees) - unless you are considering to install a solar PV (or a solar hot water) system in it.
Make it a part of your long-term energy savings approach. Trees can reduce roof temperatures by several dozen of degrees, preventing attic overheating and heat transmission to the living space.
Roofs are a big source of unwanted solar heat gains, and tree-shade a first line of defense.
Trees and vegetation are critical for cooling. But in many cases we can't use them as much as it would be necessary. And that's where awnings, shades, shutters or pergolas enter. Most of these devices are intended to provide shade for windows - the major source of unwanted solar heat gains.
Properly shaded windows are of paramount importance in any cooling strategy. So, consider carefully window shading devices, and also pergolas or awnings.
A number of researches show that bare ground surface temperatures often range 130º-150ºF and that these same temperatures can be cut in half by tree-shade, shrubs, vines and grass. Experiments have also shown that tree foliage can reduce solar radiation up to 80%.
Cover the ground around your home with vegetation, whenever possible. Trees, shrubs, vines and grass will absorb a big part of solar heat and will create a cool body of air.
If you are going to build a new home, consider carefully its siting and the best design for cooling purposes and home energy improvement.
Homes in hot climates should be conveniently protected from the sun, using design and landscape features; even in cold and moderate climates, structures like overhangs - able to protect the house from summer solar heat gains without blocking access to the winter sun - are of great importance.
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Our Video on Cooling with Shade: