Cool your home naturally: internal & external heat gain

The sun’s rays beating through a window and on a rooftop can drastically raise the internal temperature of a home. This process is called external heat gain. Aside from planting trees and changing the color of your house and roof, not much can be done to ward off external heat gain. Steps can be taken to reduce internal heat gain however. Internal heat gain comes from the collection of heat given off by sources inside the home. The most common sources of internal heat gain are; appliances, electronic devices, and lighting.

Highest Sources of Internal Heat Gain

It should be no surprise that the largest sources of internal heat gain come from major appliances. Eliminating these can not only directly reduce energy usage (if the appliances aren’t running, they are not using energy), but indirectly they keep the temperature of the house lower thus reducing the energy used by the air conditioner.

  • Stove/Oven – Backyard cookouts aren’t only fun, but practical as well. Cooking outdoors is a great way to reduce heat from using the stove or oven. If you must cook inside, try to do this in the evening and make enough to microwave leftovers. The microwave contributes far less to the heat gain than a stove or oven.
  • Incandescent Lights – Using them drains energy, using them contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, using them creates extra heat in the home. Switch over to compact fluorescent lights. Not only do CFLs use less energy, but they produce very little heat.
  • Dishwasher – To save time, many people turn the heater on to dry dishes after the wash cycle. This is simply not necessary. Let the dishes air dry or dry them off with a hand towel. Again, you are directly saving energy and contributing less to the internal heat gain.
  • Clothes Dryer – Obviously, drying clothes on high heat makes the house hot. If your laundry room in located in the house instead of the garage, you are producing a tremendous amount of internal heat gain whenever you use the dryer. If you can, hang clothes on a line outside. If this is not possible, use the lowest possible heat setting. In addition to saving energy, it is better for your clothes.
  • Shower – There’s nothing like a hot shower… to raise the temperature of your house. Take shorter showers and open the window to allow heat to escape. You can also shop around for a more efficient shower head.

Other Sources of Internal Heat Gain

Where some of the mammoth appliances in the home can create a great amount of internal heat gain, the little things can add up as well. Keep some of the smaller contributors in check as well.

  • Computer – The hazards of turning your computer off is a myth. Turn it off when you are not using it. This can be a perfect opportunity to upgrade older models for more energy efficient newer technologies.
  • Television – Touch the back of the TV after watching the, marathon of the Hill,marathon. It’s hot. Enjoy the weather and get outside, read a book, do something else to keep the TV off for extended periods of time.
  • Furnace Pilot Light – It’s pretty obvious that you don’t need to crank up the furnace. Turn off the pilot light until the cold fronts start rolling in.

These are not the only culprits, but they are by far the most common. Take some time to go on a little scavenger hunt to find other items in your home that contribute to internal heat gain and eliminate as much of the heat as you can.

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