Solar Cooling

Reader Contribution by Troy Griepentrog

As summer heats up, climbing bills for air conditioning are enough to make you sweat. Can’t take the heat? You’ll want to read ‘Forget AC! Cool Your Home Naturally’ in the August/September 2007 issue of Mother Earth News. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, there are some simple things you can do to keep the sunlight from warming the inside of your home:

Install reflective shades

Reflective shades covering the outside of windows are the most effective. They can block up to 100% of the heat that would otherwise be admitted through the windows. Of course, if your windows are on the second floor and have screens, this is a challenging option. 

Inside reflective shades can also reduce heating costs. Some options allow a certain amount of light through while still reducing the amount of heat coming into the house. But do some homework if you choose this option. A recent study from the  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation shows how effective these shades can be but also points out that under certain conditions windows may be exposed to extreme heat trapped between the shade and the window.


Awnings allow more light in through the windows, while reducing heat. Permanent awnings are an option, but other awnings roll up or retract against the outside wall to allow more light and heat inside during cooler months. In summer months, more solar heat will enter windows from the east and west sides than from the south, so the east and west windows should be your primary concern. With awnings, you’ll still have some fairly intense rays coming in through the windows when the sun is nearest the horizon. 

Other options

Don’t forget to check into other options like shade trees and the potential cooling effects of windbreaks (scroll down to ‘To Cool Down’).