Natural sunlight can offer a lot of benefits. In addition to making a room feel brighter, it can give the illusion of being larger as well. Not only that, but natural light can provide us with the vitamin D from the sun that our bodies need.
The downside to a lot of natural light is that it can heat up a room pretty quickly. The heat created from natural light can be combatted in a few different ways. Installing fans or adjustable awnings, implementing outdoor plants, changing lighting, and other things can all be a great way to combat the heat from all that natural light.
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Why Do These Rooms Get Hot?
The UV rays created by the sun can be a great way to infuse natural lighting into a room. But those UV rays emit heat as well, heating up the room in the process. The more light let in, the quicker the temperature rises. Before you know it, the room is hotter than you’d like.
When a particular room gets too warm, it can put your HVAC system into overdrive. That leads to higher energy costs than ever before, costing you money in the end. Finding that balance between natural light yet comfortable temperatures is essential.
Step 1: Get New Windows
For older homes in particular, outdated windows can be the biggest culprit behind higher energy bills. Standard double-pane windows allow almost three-quarters of the heat from sunlight into a particular room.
The switch to energy-efficient double-pane windows can help reduce the amount of heat let in without compromising the light. And when less heat permeates the room, your air conditioner won’t have to run to compensate.
Keep in mind that new windows can get to be quite costly, but that there is a trade-off. Savings on energy bills over the life of the windows can help to alleviate those up-front costs.
Step 2: Implement Window Treatments
New windows may be too expensive to go with that option. So, if you can’t change out the windows, try installing window treatments. Things like curtains, drapes, and blinds can help to mitigate the sunlight that enters the room.
The best options are window treatments that have reflective backing or lighter colors. This way, the light won’t be absorbed by the room, instead bouncing the heat outwards.
- Adjustable Blinds. Having adjustable blinds allows for precise control over the amount of light (and heat) allowed into a room. The only downside is that, should you want to cut down on the heat, you’d have to cut out the light as well.
- Roller Shades. There are remote-controlled shades out there that can give you the ability to add or reduce light at any time. Similar to the blinds, the downside is that you lose light when you lose heat.
- Curtains/Drapes. This is probably the cheapest option there is. Drapes can tie into the aesthetic of the room, but there are limitations. Drapes won’t completely block out the sun in most cases. Moreover, they can attract dust if they are too close to the floor, adding an extra layer of dust and dirt.
Step 3: Outdoor Plants
If you don’t want to add anything on the inside of the home, try implementing something just outside. Trees and large shrubs placed around your windows can provide the necessary shade to reduce the impact of heat from the sun’s UV rays.
Thick and/or large-leafed plants are the best for not only blocking out the sun but allow good air circulation. Just make sure that you don’t plant on the south side of the home as it can reduce the passive solar heating during the colder months of the year.
Step 4: Awnings
In a similar vein as outdoor plants, awnings can help to block some direct sunlight while allowing full use of your windows. Even better, awnings come in both fixed and adjustable styles to suit your specific needs.
Another positive about awnings is that you can open the window while still blocking out the light. During the hottest periods of the day, this is a great way to keep a particular room cool without taxing your HVAC system.
Step 5: Fans
Implementing a fan or two in a room is a quick way to disperse that heat from the natural lighting. Moreover, there are multiple fan stylings to choose from based on your accessibility and overall aesthetic.
- Ceiling fans. The most popular choice by far because they are out of the way and can provide lighting as well as improved airflow and cooling. They draw the cooler air up from the floor to the ceiling (remember, heat rises).
- Window fans. Another option is out of the way and pulls the hot air out of the room while drawing cooler air in. Can be a bit intrusive if you want to open a window, but certainly not the worst option.
- Box/Oscillating fans. The cheapest option but also the more invasive. Box and oscillating fans sit out, usually on an elevated surface, and improve cool airflow. These can be somewhat annoying especially with smaller spaces.
Step 6: A Dehumidifier
Warm air is only amplified in humid climates. That humid air not only makes it feel warmer but somewhat heavier as well. Cut down on the humidity in a given room by introducing a dehumidifier into the mix.
If you don’t feel like paying for one, bringing certain plants into the room can also help to mitigate humidity levels. Also, try to avoid things like showering or washing clothes to prevent additional moisture in the air.
Step 7: Pay Attention to Lighting
Given that natural sunlight can brighten a room, finding energy-efficient bulbs may be the way to go. Traditional light bulbs can generate far more heat than you realize, upping the temperature in the room easily.
Keep lights off to give your air conditioner a better chance at cooling the room efficiently. With energy-saving bulbs, you can also save money on your energy bill in the long-run to give yourself an additional reason to make the switch.
How Do I Keep My Home Cool During the Summer?
The obvious answer is “with air conditioning”, but that’s not the point. Running your HVAC system constantly is both expensive and shortens the life of said system. That is why it is imperative to find other measures for cutting down on the natural heat drawn into the home.
- Check insulation. Older homes may need to have their insulation updated. With proper insulation, your home will do a better job of keeping those rays out of your home, allowing it to stay cooler with less effort. Even better, that insulation will help keep heat in during the winter. Your roof should also be insulated, particularly if you have bedrooms located under the eaves.
- Check your color scheme. Pale and neutral colors are the best at limiting heat in a room. That is because they reflect heat and light whereas darker colors absorb both. Bright and bold colors may have a different aesthetic appeal, but lighter and more neutral colors will be better for your HVAC system.
- Cut off unnecessary sources. One of the most consistent sources of heat comes from things like computers, light bulbs, and stand-by devices. Even things like phone chargers can give off heat when not in use. While individually they may not amount to much, together they can work to raise the temperature in a room by several degrees.
- Protective films. The windows are generally the biggest reason for heat trapped in the home. By fitting them with protective films, you can filter UV rays out and reduce the impact of the sun. This is a cheap, effective way of keeping your home cooler during the hotter months.
How Do I Keep Cool Air in My Home?
While the focus so far has been on keeping warm air out, what about keeping cool air in? There are several things that can be done to keep the cooler air in your home while reducing the heat levels created.
- Fan dry clothes. An interesting way to dry your clothes while staying cool is to hang them up and put a fan behind your clothes. The air will spread the coolness of the moisture around the room, helping to cool off the humidity and heat in the room.
- Fans throughout the home. Touched on briefly above, fans are a great way to reduce warm air and increase airflow throughout the house. Ceiling fans are generally the best option as they also eliminate some of the humidity that can build throughout the day.
- Ground-coupled heat exchange. This depends on how much you’re willing to spend and the land available. This covers about 20 meters of tubing underground. Outdoor air is then circulated through the tubing before it can enter through your home’s ventilation system. The temperature underground is about 53 degrees Fahrenheit which is much cooler than any temperatures outside. This is a great way to keep your home cooler without taxing the HVAC system.