We know we’re not telling you anything different when we say that summer in South Florida is hot. You know that you can keep your home cooler with a well-maintained air conditioning system from Lindstrom Air, but you can also help keep your home cool from the outside, thus improving efficiency and helping your utilities budget.
Be Shady, Be Cool
When you’re outside in the sun, you will seek out the shade to help cool off. Since your house can’t physically move under the closest tree, it’s helpful to plan your landscaping with shade plants such as bushes and trees.
Trees Trees that are located on the southern and west sides of the home are the most efficient in helping to cool your home because those are the ones taking the more direct hits from the hot afternoon sun during the summer. If properly placed, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates an average household can save $100-$250 in annual energy costs with just three trees. Trees that would do well in our locale include bald cypress, Japanese fern, sycamore and weeping podocarpus.
Shrubs/Bushes Planting shrubs and bushes around your home can help block sunlight on the lower portions of the outside walls. When choosing shrubs for your home, make sure you choose low maintenance varieties that will grow to a fixed height. Some bushes include azalea, bougainvillea, firebush and Texas sage.
Vines Vines can provide fast shade as they are easy and quick to grow, but you’ll want to guide them to cover what you want—use a trellis or lattice so they don’t damage the exterior of your home. If you use a trellis, place it on the hottest side of the house, at least six inches from the wall. Some vines that do well in our climate include passion vine, Carolina jasmine and allamanda.
Most windows are already installed with screens, but exterior shade screens (i.e., sun screens, shade cloths or solar shields) are made to block anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of the sun’s energy that hits the window. When choosing the right screen, you’ll look at the “shading coefficient” (describes the amount of heat that penetrates the screen)—the lower the numbers, the less energy that will get through. Do note that shade screens will obscure the view from that window.
Another idea for your windows is to have awnings installed over your windows (especially on the south side of your home). Using awnings can reduce the solar heat gain (the amount temperature rises because of the sun) by 65-75 percent on windows on the south and west side.
Painting your ceiling with a lighter, heat-reflective surface will reflect the ultraviolet rays of sun, which discourages your house’s roof from absorbing the sun. Even just using lighter colored roofing tiles will help curve the amount of UV light and heat absorbed into your home.
As always, call Lindstrom Air and we will work with you to provide the most efficient cooling system that fits your home.