All About Heat Gain

While heat gain can be beneficial in the winter as an alternative to traditional ways of heating your home, in the summer heat gain tends to be something that you want to avoid.

What Exactly is Heat Gain?

Generally speaking heat gain is any heat, regardless of the source, that accumulates in a room or building. Common sources of heat gain are the sun, electronics that we have plugged in around our home and even our own body temperature. But more times that not, when someone mentions heat gain they are referring specifically to solar heat gain.

When the sun hits your windows, heat becomes trapped inside your house, increasing the temperature and heat gaining occurs. If you have an air conditioner or cooling system, it has to work overtime to keep things cool. This increases the amount of electricity that is used, upping your electrical bill and using more resources.

Other things, such as a dark roof that will attract solar heat, can add to your home’s solar gain. A poorly ventilated house can also gather and trap heat from the sun.

The Good Side of Heat Gain

Solar heat can lower your winter heating costs by harnessing the sun’s heat to heat your home. This can be done through passive measures, such as installing larger windows, or through more active methods, like installing solar panels. By increasing your home’s heat gain in the winter, there isn’t as much need to use conventional heating methods which cut down on your electrical bill. But in the summer the opposite happens with heat gain.

Fortunately there is something you can do about it.

Ways to Avoid Unwanted Heat Gain

While you can get an energy audit on your house and do a major renovation, there are smaller, more cost efficient means of lowering your home’s heat gain.   

First thing is to make sure that your windows have no cracks or breaks in them and are well insulated. If the caulking around your windows is damaged, reapply. Also, using darkening curtains or blinds, or even tinting your windows with reflective window films will lower heat gain.

Placing an awning over your windows will also help to deflect the sun, lowering the amount of heat gaining that occurs. Or you can add trees and shrubs outside your windows to block out some of the sun’s rays.

When building a house, pay attention to where you place your windows and how many. The more windows, the more heat gain you will have. And the more south and west facing windows you have, the more heat gain that will happen.

Also, choose a light colored roof for your new home or when reroofing. This can drastically cut down on the amount of heat gain in your home and the amount it cost to cool your house in the summer by between 20 and 70 percent. 

While protecting your home from heat gain may cost you a bit of money upfront, the amount that you will save on your electrical bill is well worth it.