How do you keep your air-conditioning bills low if you live in a hot climate? If you’re planning to build a new house in a state where cooling bills are usually higher than heating bills, you probably know that it’s important to keep ductwork inside the home’s thermal envelope. After all, an unconditioned attic in Texas is basically a solar oven, and that’s not a good place for air-conditioning ducts. It’s also important to install a thick layer of insulation in your roof or on your attic floor to provide a thermal barrier between your hot roof and your home’s interior.
While these measures help, the most important way to lower air-conditioning costs is to install good windows. That requires sizing and orienting each window carefully; choosing the right type of glazing; and if possible, keeping the windows in the shade.
If your house has single-pane or clear double-pane windows, you know that the sunlight pouring through these windows is responsible for most of your home’s heat gain. While this heat gain may be desirable during the winter, it’s definitely not desirable on hot summer afternoons. Of course, it’s much easier to provide shading for windows if the details are incorporated into the design of a new home; however, it’s often possible to retrofit an existing home to improve window shading.
Some of the different ways windows can be shaded include recessing them into thick walls or protecting them with roof overhangs, porch roofs, or dedicated window-shading screens.