Ah, summertime. Outdoor sports, gardening, picnics, so much to enjoy. And when you come in out of the sun, you want to relax and cool down indoors. But what about the heat gain in your home that taxes your AC and slows down your cool-down? There are ways to combat heat gain—here are Stay Comfy’s recommendations.
What is Heat Gain?
Heat gain is pretty much what it sounds like: It's the transfer of heat into your home through a variety of sources, particularly in the summer months. There are many causes for heat gain, and it’s a good idea to understand which might apply to your home.
- Solar heat gain. This is heat gain as a direct result of sunlight entering your home. We all enjoy a bright, sunny, welcoming home. At the same time, windows, skylights, and glass doors all provide a means for solar energy to infiltrate and heat up the indoors. That may be a benefit in the winter months, but in the summer, it can really add to the work load for your AC.
- Cracks and separations. Even small cracks or separations around windows and doors in your home can contribute to heat gain.
- Opening and closing doors. Just the normal act of opening and closing doors as you and your family come and go can add to heating up your home.
- Lighting and appliances. The lighting in your home and the energy emitted by other appliances—washer, dryer, dishwasher, electronics—can all contribute to a higher temp inside.
- Daily activities. Cooking and baking can be significant contributors to heat gain. Even the heat generated by your family’s activities can heat things up. Exercise, play, and electronics usage all add heat, and on a hot day, even small contributions can make a significant difference.
Ways to Manage Heat Gain
There are quite a few DIY steps you can take to minimize heat gain. Here are the most common.
- Windows and doors. There are numerous options you have for reducing heat gain through windows and doors:
- Use caulk and weather stripping to fill any cracks or separations around windows and doors.
- Draw shades and drapes during the day in the summer months.
- Install awnings and/or solar window film as additional shade from the sun.
- Consider thermal window treatments. Many new options on the market block heat transfer through windows by using multiple layers of fabric or other insulating techniques.
- You might even consider window replacement. Windows with the Energy Star label will be most effective against heat gain (and loss come fall and winter).
- Plant trees or shrubs. Thoughtful landscaping can go a long way to shading windows and doors where you get the most sun.
- Paint and insulation. Painting outside doors and walls a light color will help reflect sunlight. Adequate insulation can will also help reduce both heat gain and loss.
- Plan family activities. Try to reserve cooking, baking, and exercise for the cooler portions of the day—in the evening or early morning.
Variable Speed Air Conditioning
Even with all these DIY efforts in place, there’s no escaping the fact that in the hot summer months, your home will have heat gain. The very best way to combat the inevitable is to install a variable speed AC. The new AC models on the market are fantastic at adjusting to the temperature variations in your home, no matter the cause. Instead of using just the “on” or “off” settings of a traditional unit, variable speed ACs adjust their working capacity to meet your cooling needs. Not only does that assure continuous, even cooling throughout your home, it will save on energy costs, as well.
At Stay Comfy, we recommend the Carrier line of air conditioners. Their variable speed model, the Infinity 19VSW, can’t be beat for efficiency, comfort, and economy. Use our convenient locator to find a reputable dealer in your area.