July 9, 2024 Bailey Strobel

Energy-Efficient Home Updates to Beat the Summer Heat

Summer is a favorite season for most people. The warm weather and long evenings are the perfect setting for some of life’s most unforgettable moments. Despite the many reasons to love summer, the monthly utility bills can cause the season to lose some of its luster. A constantly working A/C unit can make June, July, and August some of the most expensive months for energy consumption. To help take some of the bite out of utility costs, keep reading for some energy-efficient home updates to beat the summer heat. 

Insulative Framing

Energy efficiency starts with the framing. Old-fashioned OSB framing panels typically contain small imperfections that allow air transfer through the walls. Given that wood framing is susceptible to rot, mold, and insect damage, these imperfections tend to grow over time. This creates highly inefficient structures. 


A better solution for energy-efficient homes is insulated concrete forms (ICF). Using this innovative approach, precast blocks are locked in place at the home site. Concrete is then used to fill the blocks. The result is a continuous, airtight wall. Most ICF frames have an R-value well over 20, more than double that of OSB frames. They also come with the highest moisture, pest, and fire resistance on the market, ensuring ongoing performance and durability. 

New Windows

New windows can improve energy efficiency in multiple ways. They can eliminate any cracks in the window-to-wall transitions. This prevents air transfer through the building envelope. They also offer improved optical clarity. By letting natural light flow more freely into the home’s interior, new windows can reduce reliance on electric lighting sources. 

Zoned Air Conditioning

The Department of Energy recommends an average temperature to set thermostat in summer of 78 degrees for optimal energy efficiency. This is not a realistic figure for most households. Many people are much more comfortable with an interior temperature closer to 72 degrees. The added comfort comes at a cost. Those extra 6 degrees will kick the HVAC into overdrive. It is often estimated that for every degree cooler you set the thermostat, expect your cooling costs to increase by 3%.


Therefore, explore the best of both worlds by employing a zoned air conditioning infrastructure. This type of system uses dampers in HVAC ducts to direct cold air where it is needed most. Instead of forcing cold air throughout the house at all times, zone A/C operates on more of an at-need basis. This can add tremendous efficiency that reduces cooling costs. 

Upgraded Roofing

The roof is an essential component of the building envelope. It is the home’s first line of defense against the elements. A degraded roof can have many negative repercussions in terms of energy efficiency. It can lead to leaks that allow air transfer. Damaged roofs will also be less insulative. 


Therefore, it is worthwhile to replace an old roof with new materials that offer greater energy efficiency benefits. Metal is a great option. Metal roofs are highly reflective. They will not absorb as much of the sun’s heat and release it into the home’s interior. Composite shingles are also viable. Due to their inorganic fabrication, they will not break down in the face of UV exposure as quickly as basic asphalt shingles or wood shakes. This keeps the roof airtight for longer. 

Improved Insulation

Quality insulation is an integral component of an energy-efficient home. Significant heat is transferred through walls with low R-values. This will cause A/C usage to skyrocket in the summer. However, walls are not the only place to consider installing sustainable insulation. Air transfer can occur through ceilings and floors as well. This makes roof cover board and below-grade insulation strong ideas. It is also important to make sure all window and door frames are properly sealed. 

Exterior Coverings

Interior window treatments such as blinds, shades, and curtains are important for controlling summer heat. However, they are likely not as impactful as exterior coverings. Awnings, solar screens, roller shades, and operable shutters are a few exterior coverings that can keep warming rays out of the home. It is particularly impactful to have these features on the south and west sides of the home to mitigate the sun when it is strongest. 

Functional Exteriors

In the days before A/C, families beat the summer heat by sitting on the porch and drinking an ice cold beverage. Thankfully, A/C arrived to improve the quality of life for millions of people. Nonetheless, there is something to be gleaned from this old-school approach. By creating functional exteriors, homeowners can reduce time spent in conditioned interiors. There are numerous ways to make time outdoors more enjoyable this summer. Pergolas over exterior hangouts provide all-important shade. A directional fan on porches and decks can create a cooling breeze. A misting system is another great idea for when conditions are particularly sultry. 

Beat the Heat Today with These Energy-Efficient Renovations

For all of its feel-good moments, summer can create some painful utility bills. However, by considering any of the smart renovations listed above, homeowners can create a more energy-efficient home that beats the summer heat and curbs A/C consumption. For further ideas on all home improvement matters, explore the resources at Castle Building & Remodeling for the leading insights in the industry!


Author Bio:

Sam Willis is a freelance writer that loves sharing his knowledge and expertise in residential and commercial real estate, as well as engineering and construction. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he enjoys spending time with his wife and researching real estate trends in his free time. Sam’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a construction industry resource site.

, , , ,