The sun is, without a doubt, the most cost-efficient source of energy, light, and warmth. In fact, it plays a central role in both our Lighting and Landscaping Tips. But too much sun in the summer can lead to an over-heated home, which then requires costly air conditioning to cool. There are several ways to minimize this problem, including insulating the windows in your home and creating a radiant barrier in your attic. Both strategies are recommended, because both result in higher comfort levels and lower energy costs.

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1. Install a Radiant Barrier in Your Attic

On a bright summer day, the sun's energy can make things very hot, very quickly. This is called radiant heat because the energy radiates from the sun, through the roof, and then down to heat everything underneath the roof. A radiant barrier simply blocks that radiation. This can be done with reflective foil, shingles, sheathing, or other reflective material. For best results, hire a contractor to ensure proper installation. Visit our Preferred Providers Network to find a recommended company that's close to you.

2. Upgrade Your Windows and Skylights

In the past, windows were windows. The most you had to be concerned about was keeping them clean. But today's new windows and skylights have been designed to transmit light while blocking heat. So even though upgrading is a big investment, it can turn into huge long-term savings on your energy bills. You can take a moment to learn about U-factors, solar heat gain coefficients, and light-to-solar gains — or you can count on our recommended experts to select and install what's right for you and your home.

3. Install Awnings and Overhangs on the Outside

If you don't have awnings or overhangs outside your windows, you may want to consider them. If you do have awnings — but they're old — you should find out about new products on the market that not only repel water, but also resist mildew and fading. Why are awnings so important? They sharply reduce solar heat gain. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain between 65% and 77% in an average home.

4. Use Draperies and Blinds on the Inside

For the inside of your home's windows, you might consider using draperies or blinds. They're both good at reducing the passage of heat through your windows. But draperies are better at reducing heat loss from the inside, while blinds are better at reducing heat gain from the outside. So close your drapes and blinds during the summer, but remember to take advantage of the sun's heat by opening them in winter when the sun is out and closing them at night to keep in the heat.

5. Install Other Window Treatments and Coverings

Solar screens, installed on the outside of your home, are a very effective way to reduce summer heat gain. Reflective films, installed on the inside, can do the same thing. But if you're more concerned about winter heat loss than summer heat gain, perhaps the most convenient solution would be removable window panels, which are inexpensive, easy to install, and can reduce heat loss by as much as 50%.