Arizona is a pretty hot place to live. And research shows that it’s getting hotter every decade. Arizona’s average temperatures are increasing, according to research from Climate Central, with a .639 degree increase for every decade from the 1970s onwards.
It’s these increasing average temperatures and urban heat island effect that can profoundly impact a home or business. Rising utility bills and strained power grids are bad enough. The heat also has a physical effect on your home, causing it to be inefficient. Higher outdoor temperatures heat up the interiors of a home or business quickly if faulty roofing, insulation, and windows are in the mix.
To counteract these effects, a properly cleaned and maintained air conditioning system is an absolute must. Clearly, to live in Arizona without air conditioning is nearly downright dangerous. A/C is almost like a shield that protects residents and businesses in Arizona (especially the greater Phoenix Valley) and keeps us cool and comfortable.
Here’s a look at how Arizona’s summer heat affects different parts of your home.
How A/C Works With Your Roof
Completely exposed, your roof can absorb heat and transfer it to your attic, crawl spaces, and interior rooms. Lighter colored shingles reflect more light; dark colors attract and hold heat. Flat roofs should be lighter in color, and trees can provide shade and lower the temperature of your roof.
How Windows Affect Your Home’s Temperatures
Half of the heat gain in your home comes from uncovered windows that allow in sun rays. It’s important to add shade screens, awnings, blinds, or shutters to block the light during the day. Consider purchasing window covers with multiple layers so you have filtered light in the early morning and early evening and full coverage during the hottest hours of the day. Proper shading all around your windows and home can reduce your air-conditioning costs by up to 25%.
Insulation Keeps Your Home Comfortable
As heat enters your home, it must pass through the attic insulation. Certain materials are better at reducing heat transfer than others. The R-value measures the relative effectiveness of these materials. For example, a ceiling R-value of 30 is recommended for Maricopa County including Phoenix. Click here to find out more information on recommended attic, wall, and floor insulation levels in Arizona, based on county and climate zone.
Protect Gardens and Landscapes
Heat stress can damage leaf tissue and even burn plants. Whiteflies and other insects flourish in higher temperatures and can simply overwhelm plant life. If your garden is immaculately kept, you might want to keep a close eye on it when daytime temperatures continuously soar to 110°F and nighttime temperatures hover in the 80s and 90s.
Trees and shrubs are more than just decoration for your backyard. They provide shade and emit water vapor, which has a cooling effect. Planting trees and shrubs around your home can actually help reduce your cooling bills.
Is There an Energy Shortage?
Cooling the homes of 5 million or so Valley residents takes a lot of power. The higher the temperatures go up, the more energy is needed to keep air-conditioned homes at a comfortable temperature. The same goes for businesses and public buildings. If there is ever an energy system failure in the Valley, air-conditioning systems will go out, and that can have a dangerous impact on people.
Energy company APS recommends turning off all unnecessary electrical equipment when a shortage occurs. This will help avoid electrical spikes and protect your system from any overload when the power returns.
Climate Change and the Water Supply
Water overuse, drought, and effects of climate change could dry up Arizona’s water supply and that of Southern California. If water resources become limited in Arizona, your home would have to conserve the water used to cook, bathe, do laundry and run your A/C system.