With record lows of 94 degrees in Phoenix and record triple digit highs throughout the country, here are some things for your clients to consider for both new and existing homes that will help conserve energy in hot climates.

For new construction, suggest that your clients consider…

  1. Sun Orientation –
    1. North facing windows and doors will have less midday sun exposure.
    2. South facing windows can be protected with porches and roof overhangs.
    3. Protect east/west walls and windows with a nearby building, garage, trees, and hills particularly on the west or sunset walls/windows when the sun sheds its last heat of the day.
  2. Wind Orientation –
    1. Locate patios and outdoor spaces where the wind blows.
    2. Tune window placement to cross breezes and nighttime cooling.
    3. Wind blockers are nearby buildings, hills and forested areas.
  3. Architecturally compact footprints and layouts –
    1. Homes that fit closely into a square or circle are more energy efficient
    2. Homes that stretch out and/or have extensions require more energy to cool
  4. Appropriate construction materials –
    1. Earth sheltered homes (adobe) are great in hot climates because of their naturally cooling properties
    2. BUT, earth sheltered homes have problems with drainage and moisture if monsoons are also part of the weather equation. The climate in Santa Fe NM is a good example of both heat and monsoons; unexpected mold is too often the result.
  5. Landscape appropriately –
    1. Plant trees strategically to provide shade from the sun and wind blockage,
    2. Consider Palo Verde trees and/ saguaro cacti if there is no natural rainfall
  1. Roof overhangs are back
    1. Though out of style in 20th C when air conditioning blew in, overhangs have returned because they are definitely block the sun and save on cooling costs
    2. Plan patios and outdoor spaces in conjunction with roof overhang

For existing homes, suggest your clients consider these energy efficiency tips…

  1. Supplemental whole house dehumidification systems to reduce moisture problems, according to David Roberts, National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
  2. If the house is serviced with electricity, heat pumps make sense, according to CR Herro, vice president for energy efficiency and sustainability with Heritage Home.
  3. Because the roof is the first line of defense to stop traveling heat, make sure there is good insulation next to the roof plus a radiant barrier that reflects heat away from the roof.
  4. Seal the doors and attic within air-conditioned spaces to keep heat from traveling through the air. Experts say the amount of “leakage” in a typical home is “staggering.”
  5. Windows are primary culprits when it comes to radiant heat beating down from the sun. Consider covering windows with solar control film. (NOT in cold weather climates, however.)