Top Eco-Friendly Home Renovations to Start Before the Summer Heat

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Erin Vaughan

Flip-flops, shorts, and…insulation projects? Believe it or not, home improvement projects are as seasonal as your wardrobe. And since the weather has warmed, it’s time to fit in some springtime renovations before the worst heat arrives. These projects will prepare your home for even the most extreme summer highs, ensuring that your interiors stay cool and shaded—and that your landscaping doesn’t run up your water bill when rainfall becomes scarce. Here are some of our picks for late-spring renovations that will put you in shape for whatever the summer weather has to offer. 

Insulation projects may not be glamorous, but they win when it comes to return on investment. Cost-versus-value reports confirm that insulation installation offers one of 2017’s most profitable projects. Adding fiberglass insulation to your home’s attic nets an over 107 percent cost-versus-value ratio, and proper insulation saves energy, too. Adding insulation to an unconditioned attic could knock off as much as $600 in annual utility expenses—but you definitely don’t want to be working in a hot attic in the dead of summer. Getting an insulation project done now, before the worst of the summer heat hits, will maximize your energy savings and reduce your AC use, while dodging the brunt of the heat. 

Attic Insulation

Insulation projects may not be glamorous, but they win when it comes to return on investment. Cost-versus-value reports confirm that insulation installation offers one of 2017’s most profitable projects. Adding fiberglass insulation to your home’s attic nets an over 107 percent cost-versus-value ratio, and proper insulation saves energy, too. Adding insulation to an unconditioned attic could knock off as much as $600 in annual utility expenses—but you definitely don’t want to be working in a hot attic in the dead of summer. Getting an insulation project done now, before the worst of the summer heat hits, will maximize your energy savings and reduce your AC use, while dodging the brunt of the heat.

AC Maintenance

Speaking of your AC, isn’t it time you gave yours a little TLC? Your air conditioning unit is going to be working hard this summer, which means that if you’re ready for an AC replacement or just in need of a little upkeep, the time to get it done is now. HVAC technicians’ schedules fill up with emergency repair requests as the temperatures skyrocket, so you don’t want to put this one off any longer. Test the electrical connections and interior components, and clean out evaporator and condenser coils and drain lines. This TLC will seriously improve AC performance, giving you a more efficient unit and cooler interiors.

In fact, if your AC is pushing 15 years old or has a SEER level of 10 or below, it may be time for a total replacement. A machine with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio—or SEER—could potentially cut cooling expenditures by as much as 40 percent. And many modern units have sensors that shut the system down before components completely malfunction, which increases their overall lifespan as well for long-term cooling capacity!

 Passive solar upgrades—like roof overhangs—have been gaining a footing in the green building industry of late, mainly because they reduce the energy homes consume through cooling without introducing any additional mechanical elements. Angled overhangs, particularly on the south- and west-facing parts of your home, prevent windows from absorbing the worst solar heat, thus maintaining lower interior temperatures throughout the hot weather. If your home has short or nonexistent eaves, a roofer can construct extensions that will shade and cool your home. Alternatively, you can install an acrylic or aluminum awning over windows. Placing awnings over west-facing windows has a potential energy savings of 77 percent. But you’ll want to act fast, before the summer sun really comes into its own!

Add or Extend Roof Overhangs
Passive solar upgrades—like roof overhangs—have been gaining a footing in the green building industry of late, mainly because they reduce the energy homes consume through cooling without introducing any additional mechanical elements. Angled overhangs, particularly on the south- and west-facing parts of your home, prevent windows from absorbing the worst solar heat, thus maintaining lower interior temperatures throughout the hot weather. If your home has short or nonexistent eaves, a roofer can construct extensions that will shade and cool your home. Alternatively, you can install an acrylic or aluminum awning over windows. Placing awnings over west-facing windows has a potential energy savings of 77 percent. But you’ll want to act fast, before the summer sun really comes into its own!

Introduce Drought-Tolerant Landscaping

If you thought the rampant energy consumption from cooling was bad, you should see how much water it takes to keep conventional lawns from curling up in the summer! Thirsty, water-inefficient turf guzzles 30 to 60 percent of urban freshwater, and its maintenance may be responsible for as much as five percent of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Drought-tolerant landscaping, like succulent beds or native grasses, combined with hardscaping features like stone paths, borders, and patios, requires much less watering this summer. For extra water conservation, add a rainwater harvesting system or programmable smart sprinkler timers, which can track local conditions like the weather forecast for a more accurate watering program. Now that is water-smart gardening!

Just a few small improvements are all you need for your greenest summer yet. Bring on the heat!

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