Because of climate change, extreme weather events are becoming frequent. Heatwaves in summer and winter storms threaten the well-being of the population. If you are building a house or remodeling your current home, it is best to prioritize features that weatherize and cool it to protect against both cold and hot weather.
Apart from making your family more comfortable across seasons, taking these steps will also make your home more energy-efficient. This means saving a lot with a lower energy bill. It also means you are doing the planet a favor, contributing to efforts for environmental protection.
Before deciding on what to do in your home, you must first determine the prevailing weather conditions in your area. If you have more heatwaves than ultra-cold weather, you must opt for cooling features. On the other hand, if your locality is more prone to hard winter weather, choose features that retain interior heat.
Cool roofs are best in states where summers get too hot because a regular roof can go up to 150°F or more while one with a cool roof coating can be more than 50°F cooler. These coatings are like thick white paint with special pigments that reflect sunlight to absorb less heat. They can protect the surface of the roof from ultra-violet (UV) rays, water damage, and chemical damage.
There are coatings for various types of roofing. For instance, painting metal roofs with cool reflective coatings increases their solar reflectance and thermal emittance, transforming them into cool roofs.
If you want a roof that keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, install a green roof. This means you need a flat or shallow pit roof that you can cover with grass, vegetables, herbs, or flowering plants that act as natural insulation.
Apart from the green roof’s effect on your home’s temperature, it will also provide you with fresh produce for your meals. It is also an additional outdoor space that you and your family can enjoy.
Heat always flows from a warmer area to a cooler area to achieve uniform temperature. Therefore, in summer, heat flows from the hot outdoors into the cooler interiors of your home. Conversely, in winter, heat seeps out from your warmer interiors to the colder areas of the home and outdoors.
There are three ways by which heat flows. Conduction is when it flows through conductive materials like metal. Convection is when it circulates through gasses or liquids. Hot air always rises while cool air sinks. Radiation is when it flows in a straight path, hence, anything solid in its path that absorbs it becomes heated.
Insulation works by slowing down or blocking heat flow. This means the interior of your home remains cooler than outside in summer and warmer than outside in winter. Bulky insulation materials like fiberglass, natural fibers, cellulose, and rock and slag wool resist conductive and convective heat flow. Rigid foam boards stop conductive heat flow by trapping air. Reflective insulation systems use reflective foils and radiant barriers to bounce heat away from the building. Install interior storm windows with low-emissivity coatings that reduce heat transmission to keep heat inside in the winter and keep cool air inside in the summer.
If you live in warm climates, you can add exterior shade screens outside windows. These block 50 to 90 percent of the heat from entering the windows. Indoors, you can use specially coated light-colored curtains and blinds that block and reflect heat.
Cool down the home further by surrounding the house with trees, trellises with vines, and bushes that provide shade and cooling. Avoid placing rock walls and paved areas on the side of the house that faces south and west because they will absorb and radiate heat.
Cooling and heating systems cannot work efficiently if your home has air leakage. You must seal cracks and openings with caulking, weatherstripping, foam gaskets, or pliable sealing gaskets.
Among the areas you must seal are gaps in insulation, doors, windows, interior wall and ceiling joints, wall and floor joints, outlets and switch plates, baseboards, and the places where electrical wiring, ducting, or plumbing come through walls, floors, ceilings, and cabinets. Use fire-resistant materials to seal air leaks around furnaces, fireplace chimneys, and gas-fired water heater vents.
A Weather-proof Home
Weather-proofing your house will be one of the best investments you can make in improving it to serve your comfort, health, and well-being. It can save you from heatstroke during heatwaves and illness during freezing weather.
It will also be the right step toward saving the planet because the U.S. Department of Energy states that heating and cooling systems add to global warming by releasing more than half a billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year. These systems also produce about 24 percent of the country’s sulfur dioxide emissions, creating acid rain.