Economic Energy Efficiency

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Hot Rooms

Problem: Stuffy, hot rooms. Most houses tend to have a room or two, often on an upper floor, that won't stay cool even when the air conditioning is cranked.

Solution: Hot rooms can be the result of a number of things, and an assessment by a certified energy auditor is the best way to determine the exact causes. Most of the time, a combination of solar heat gain (from unshaded windows) and the natural effect of heat rising within your house are the culprits. But there may be other, less obvious factors too--an uninsulated hot water pipe in the wall or floor, leaky ducts, poor attic insulation and more. There are many solutions, and an energy efficiency professional will identify which ones will have the greatest impact at the lowest cost.

To stop solar gain, sunshades, reflective films, and awnings are good options, but even plain old interior shades, blinds, or drapes will do a lot to reduce heat from the sun. Thinking longer term, strategic landscaping (trees shading windows = less heat) may be an answer. And installing a radiant barrier in your attic reduces heat flow into the house. And, don't forget the concept of "wind chill"--which says that moving air feels about 8% cooler. Ceiling fans or simple standing fans can help, and are very energy efficient. Bottom line: understand the underlying performance issues that are causing the hot room before you give in to the high cost of a bigger air conditioning system.