Every time the thermostat breaks triple-digit numbers outside, we are flooded with questions about how to reduce or prevent heat gain in order to lower electric bills.
There are five common wrong techniques homeowners try to employ to save money and many of these so-called solutions are not actually solutions at all. We’ve broken down these five soapbox issues of mine here:
Over-insulating your attic
Many homeowners worry about the super-hot condition of their home’s attic, so they tell themselves, “If the attic is cooler, the house will be cooler and my air conditioner won’t run so much and my bills will go down.”
Makes sense, right? Wrong.
The problem is that, if the attic has enough insulation to be at an R-38 level and has proper vents, there is nothing more economical you can do for your attic than to leave it alone.
That R-value measures how effectively insulation resists heat flow into your cooled spaces below and the recommended value of R-38 in the desert comes from the U.S. Energy Department.
Over-insulating the attic won’t save enough money on power bills to make the return on investment worthwhile. (By the way, homes in northern Arizona usually have attic insulation at R-60 because of colder winters.)
Installing radiant barrier insulation in your attic
Most of us have thermal insulation in the attic, such as mineral wool, cellulose and urethane foam. Radiant barrier insulation makes use of reflective materials, such as foil.
If installed properly, radiant barriers can help if you have very poor insulation, but it won’t help if you already have insulation at the R-38 level. Not only is it a poor solution, radiant barrier insulation will take decades to pay for itself.
Hooking up a fan in your attic
The only thing an attic fan will do, be it solar- or electric-powered, is create negative pressure in the attic. That will cause the air-conditioned air inside your home to be drawn up into the attic.
So, in reality, what you will be doing is increasing your demand for air conditioning which will only drive UP your energy expense.
Putting an exhaust fan or insulation in your garage
Yes, your garage is really hot, and yes, it is probably not insulated. When you drive your super-hot car into the garage, you raise the temperature.
An exhaust fan would just run all the time and raise your electric bill.
You can insulate the walls, but it won’t be very cost-effective because hot air leaks in all the time through your uninsulated garage door.
Letting your ceiling fans run all day long
When you’re in a room, a ceiling fan can make you feel cooler without setting the air conditioning at a lower setting. Some experts say that people set their thermostats four degrees higher when a fan is running.
But a ceiling fan doesn’t actually cool the air, and its motor generates heat and uses electricity. It’s only beneficial to run it when someone is in the room. Do not run them all the time.
Although these methods won’t help with your bill at all, the good news is we do have a method that will save you a ton of money. The method is called super-cooling and you’re going to want to check it out.
For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.
And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.
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