Whether you are considering buying a resale home, or building a new home (or even renting an apartment), you'll want to consider these five things first. If the home you are in love with takes care of these 5 items, you will be able to save considerable money on your electric bill during those hot summer months.
1. ExposureWhat is the exposure of the home? Does the front of the house face either east/west or is it a north/south exposure? Generally, the preferred exposure is either north or south. Frankly, the most important aspect of the position of the house relative to the sun is determining which part of the house faces west. The western afternoon sun is the hottest. If you sleep in the afternoon because you work the graveyard shift, you don't want your bedroom on the west side of the house! Likewise, the room that your family uses the most should probably not be on the west side of the house, since that side heats up the most, and will require the most energy to keep it cool.
2. WindowsWhere are the windows in the house, and how large or small are they? The more windows you have, and the larger they are, the more energy you'll use keeping your house cool, especially if they are west- facing windows.
3. Window coveringsIn the Arizona desert it is important that you have tinting or screens on your windows (there's a difference between shade screens and bug screens). Window coverings--shades, blinds, drapes, shutters--can be very expensive, but they are part of the consideration in keeping your energy costs down. In the summer, make sure that the windows are covered before you go off to work.
4. Ceiling FansCeiling fans can make you much more comfortable--the breeze effect can make the room feel more than 5º cooler! Learn more about how ceiling fans can reduce your energy costs.
5. Programmable ThermostatsRaise the thermostat setting as much as you can without sacrificing comfort. For every degree you raise the setting, you can cut cooling bills by as much as 5 percent. In summer, turning the thermostat up to 78 will keep the cost down. I use a programmable thermostat to set the temperature up a degree or two at night and when we are all out of the house for long periods of time during the week. For maximum A/C efficiency don't vary temperatures more than about 3 degrees.
So, let's get back to that home that you fell in love with. You say it has a southern exposure, and the entire western side of the house is the garage? You say that all the windows have shade screens on them, and the sunnier ones even have awnings? The seller is leaving the drapes and blinds that block out every bit of sun when closed, but allow for plenty of light and sun in the mornings and in the winter? There are ceiling fans in every room? Your dream home just became that much more perfect, and you've saved thousands of dollars in purchases and electric bills by selecting this home--Congratulations!