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In our series on climate-resilient homes, we’ve explored how to protect your home from extreme weather, including fire, storms, drought, and floods. Now we’ll conclude our series with the most deadly extreme weather in the U.S. over the past 30 years — heat.

What is Extreme Heat?

Extreme heat refers to temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average. Because the average temperature differs by geography and climate, what qualifies as extreme heat varies according to these factors. To ascertain the heat risk to your specific address, login to the free Green Door app to obtain your ClimateCheck report. ClimateCheck will provide you with a number on a scale of one to 100 to reflect your home’s risk of extreme heat compared to the contiguous U.S.

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When systems of high atmospheric pressure move into an area and become trapped for two or more days, a heat wave occurs, causing extreme heat, which can lead to heat stroke, dehydration, and other serious health problems. Thankfully there are measures you can take to protect your loved ones by preparing your home to withstand the dog days of summer.

Home Sweat Home

To protect your home from heat, more affordable options include installing drapes or shades on every window to both provide insulation and block the sun. Applying heat control window film helps reflect the sun without blocking the view of your cherished yard.

A powerful AC unit will make little difference if the cool air is escaping through leaks in your home. “A high-performing building envelope will help to maintain a thermally safe condition not only in cold weather, but also during periods of extreme heat,” says Kerry Harp, Senior Sustainability Analyst at Pearl Certification.

Installing weather-stripping on doors, windows, and the often-overlooked window air conditioning units can make a noticeable difference in keeping cool air in and hot air out.

Proper insulation between your walls and floors can also make a big impact toward improving the efficiency of your AC unit. Insulation may be more of a pricey improvement, but it can significantly reduce energy costs.

Another, higher-cost option, is new windows that will provide thermal and visual comfort. “Consider upgrading to insulated double-pane windows that have a low-E (low emissivity) coating to reject the heat before it enters the home,” says Harp.

Related Post: How Your Home's Shell Impacts Health, Safety, and Efficiency

Beneath the Lid

Insulation is paramount to keeping your home cool when outdoor temperatures compare to that of a burning oven. Thanks to low material and installation costs, blown-in loose attic insulation offers one of the highest returns on investment of all home improvement projects.

Creating the proper ecosystem within your attic would not be complete without installing roof vents, which allow heat to escape and reduce air conditioning costs, as well as add whole-house attic fans to move hot air toward those vents.

Even your roof can help combat soaring temperatures. Light-colored roof and wall colors reduce heat absorption and reflective roofing materials can prevent the transfer of the sun’s heat into your humble abode. “Cool” wall materials, such as stucco, brick, and concrete, absorb less heat compared to other building materials.

Installing solar panels and a battery to store energy can help protect you and your family from power outages. Plus, solar power can save you thousands in electricity costs.

Make the Great Outdoors Work for You Indoors

Trees and external shading devices, such as awnings or roller shades, can create much-needed shade, especially on the southern and western exposures of your home. However, if your home is at high risk for fire, outdoor preparations must be made carefully and strategically.

Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, infants, and children should not go outside during extreme heat. If you don’t want your landscaping to turn into the living dead and you don’t want to bake in the sun, consider accenting your home with drought-tolerant native plant species and/or install an irrigation system.

Related post: Pearl’s Guide to Energy-Efficient Roofing

“Extended heat waves may result in rolling blackouts or failure of the electrical grid,” says Harp. “Plan for passive survivability by ensuring you have an adequate drinking water supply and a means for cooling (battery-operated fan or generator that will maintain a reasonable level of functionality during an extended power outage).”

Related post: Solar Energy: How to Get Started, Confidently

Improving your home’s climate resilience begins with a plan. Build yours by logging in to Pearl’s award-winning Green Door app to obtain your free ClimateCheck report to discover which types of extreme weather pose the biggest threats to your specific home. While logged in, you can search for Pearl Network Contractors to perform the installations for you. Pearl Network Contractors undergo a rigorous screening process, so you can rest assured that the project will be done right the first time.

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