So the days are getting a little shorter, but at home you’re still feeling the heat — and who likes to work up a sweat when you’re relaxing on the sofa, catching up on reruns? Instead of cranking up the air conditioning (and your energy bill) to cool off, follow these strategies to keep your digs from getting too hot in the first place.

1. Made in the shade: Nearly 40 percent of indoor heat buildup comes in through windows. Outdoor awnings help block sunlight, especially for south-facing windows. Inside, blinds and curtains help, but special insulating shades work better. Try accordion shades that trap excess heat, like the Duette Honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas ( If you’re renovating, choose windows with heat-reflective coatings — check with your contractor or local hardware store.

2. If you can’t stand the heat: Use your oven less by cooking in quantity and freezing or refrigerating meal-sized portions, or fire up your outdoor grill instead.

3. Veg out: OK, we all know this: Deciduous trees shade your home in summer, let the rays through during the winter, and add oxygen to the atmosphere. But did you know they also create microclimates that naturally lower nearby air temps by as much as nine degrees? That’s, well, cool.

4. Top it off: Asphalt-shingled roofs can absorb up to 90 percent of the sun’s radiant energy, even if they’re light in color. Use reflective roofing materials instead, or apply a special reflective coating to your roof to chase the heat away. Check out EnergyStar’s website for product listings (

5. Make the switch: If you haven’t traded in your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, do it now — they give off the same amount of light while emitting 90 percent less heat and using 75 percent less energy.

Story by Deborah Snoonian. This article originally appeared in Plenty in August 2006. This story was added to in June 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2006.

Keeping your cool
There are several strategies to keep your home cool without cranking the air-conditioning.