Despite hot weather and stay-at-home forecasts, MRA touts strategies to help homeowners keep their cool and lower energy costs

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Stay-at-home recommendations often mean family members are spending more time together all under one roof, causing temperatures—and energy costs—to flare and leaving many to wonder how they can beat the heat while reducing utility bills. MRA touts 10 strategies for controlling peak season costs, temperatures (and tempers) during August heatwaves.

Proper airflow, high efficiency windows and even a dark color metal roof can help keep homes cooler in the heat. Image from MRA member Drexel Metals

By taking simple steps to save on air conditioning costs and choosing more advanced, efficient building and renovation materials, homeowners can save energy and increase comfort even during the hottest weather - Renee Ramey, MRA

Heat waves throughout the U.S. and Canada are showing no signs of abating this month. Stay-at-home recommendations often mean family members are spending more time together all under one roof, causing temperatures—and energy costs—to flare and leaving many to wonder how they can beat the heat while reducing utility bills.

It’s no wonder why: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, air conditioning accounts for a whopping 12 percent of home energy costs on average and, depending on the region, those costs can be significantly higher. Home improvement experts agree that by taking action and considering ways to maximize efficiency by making smart home improvement decisions, reducing energy use even during the peak of summer is achievable.

“In addition to taking simple steps to save on air conditioning costs this season, it’s important for homeowners to keep in mind that choosing more advanced, efficient building and renovation materials can have a major impact on reducing utility bills,” said Renee Ramey, executive director of the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA). “That adds up to real savings not just in summer, but all year long.”

As August temperatures rise, other reminders to increase hot weather home efficiency and comfort include:

1) Control natural light
Use blackout blinds and curtains to your cooling advantage by blocking afternoon sun rays. Even if your home has energy efficient windows, blinds can serve as an extra layer of insulation to keep heat out.

2) Clean HVAC filters
Because good airflow is essential for air conditioning units to properly do their job while using as little energy as possible, replace or clean your system’s filters regularly.

3) Beef up home insulation
It’s a myth that insulation is mostly beneficial if you live in a cold weather climate. Better insulation can have a major impact on keeping your home cooler much longer in hotter weather.

4) Replace the roof with efficiency in mind
Choosing better roofing material and installation methods adds up to real dollars and cents. Research indicates that homeowners can save up to 40 percent on annual energy costs by selecting the right type of roof and installation practices. Invest in a metal “cool roof,” which offers proven energy efficiency performance and delivers high total solar reflectance and high infrared emittance, keeping homes cool and saving energy by re-emitting most of what solar radiation is absorbed. Cool metal roofs help save energy by lowering roof temperatures by as much as 50 percent.

5) Use efficient lightbulbs
Nearly 90 percent of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs is used to produce heat, contributing to rising indoor temperatures. Switch to cooler, energy efficient fluorescent or LED lights instead.

6) Use airflow to maximum advantage
Take advantage of cooler evening and early morning cross breezes by opening windows and doors, and remember to shut them tight before daytime temperatures begin to spike. Install ceiling fans which, based on industry research, can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler while only using 10 percent of the energy of a central air conditioner.

7) Use your thermostat wisely
Strategies for smart temperature control include installing a programmable thermostat, placing it in the cooler part of your home and setting the temperature higher when you are away-small changes that add up to big cost savings.

8) Run appliances during off peak hours
Wait to run dishwashers and laundry loads until later at night, when the demand on the power grid is lower and temperatures are often cooler. Keep the oven and stove off (use an outdoor barbecue instead) and power down electronics all the way when not in use. Controlling small heat sources can contribute greatly to increased comfort and efficiency.

9) Install a whole house attic fan
Easy to install, a whole house fan works to create negative pressure by drawing out hot air while drawing in cooler air from outside, effectively venting your home while reducing the load on the air conditioning system.

10) Seal gaps around windows and doors
Little cracks and gaps can have a big impact on household comfort and cooling/heating costs. Seal them with caulk or weatherstripping and if your home has old, single pane windows, consider upgrading them with modern, energy efficient ones.

About Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA)
Representing metal roofing manufacturers in the United States and Canada, the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) was formed in 1998 as a nonprofit organization to help educate consumers about the many benefits of metal roofs. The main objective of MRA is to increase awareness of the beauty, durability and money-saving advantages of quality metal roofs among homeowners, as well as to provide support for metal roofing businesses and contractors. For more information, visit MRA.

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Darcie K Meihoff
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