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7 Home Design Tips for Energy Efficiency

Save energy on heating and cooling by using your home’s design to your advantage.

An energy-efficient home is no longer just a trendy concept; it is becoming the new norm. You can maximize energy efficiency and minimize the need for heating and cooling by using your home’s design to your advantage. Whether you’re considering a full renovation or just looking to make some small improvements, here are seven ideas to get you started:

1.  Install a ceiling fan in high-traffic areas and rooms.

If you run a ceiling fan while the air conditioner or heater is on, you’ll be able to adjust the thermostat about 4 degrees, yet keep the same comfort level. In the summer, run the fan in a counter-clockwise direction at a high speed. In the winter, run it clockwise at a low speed to move the warmer air downward. Remember that fans cool people, not spaces, so turn off the fan when you leave a room to avoid wasting electricity.

2.  Use flooring to enhance your comfort.
If you have hardwood or linoleum flooring, place large area rugs made of heavy wool or cotton to absorb the heat in the room rather than letting it escape. When the weather warms up, they are easy to roll back up and store away until next winter.

3.  Arrange furniture with circulation in mind.
Rearrange your furniture if it blocks any air vents. Vents need to be exposed to adequately circulate air throughout your home. Dense furniture, such as a bookcase or a high-back sofa, acts as a significant thermal barrier when placed against exterior walls.

4.  Choose paint colors strategically.
Paint walls that get direct sunlight a lighter color to reflect heat. Light paint colors also accentuate natural lighting, making the room seem bigger and brighter while reducing the need for energy-consuming artificial lighting.

5.  Change out your curtains depending on the season.
Similar to paint on walls, the color of your curtains can help to absorb or reflect the sun’s heat. In the summer, choose curtains that are lined with a light-colored backing to block the sun’s direct heat. During the winter, switch them out for darker curtains to retain as much heat as possible. Hang curtains as close to the window as possible to maximize their effectiveness.

6.  Plant deciduous trees to shade your home from the sun.
Shading from trees can reduce the air temperature around your home by up to 6 degrees. Deciduous trees, such as oak and maple trees, are best for blocking sunlight in the summer, when they are in full bloom. During the winter, the trees lose their leaves and allow your home to absorb maximum solar heat. A newly-planted 6-8 foot deciduous tree will begin shading windows within the first year.

7.  Install rooftop solar panels.
In many instances, installing solar panels may make good financial sense if your home has clear access to the sun for most of the day and throughout the year. In Southern California, a south or southwest-facing roof will give you the most sun. You’ll need to determine if you have enough space on your roof for the solar panels to fit.