Have your electricity bills been exceedingly high this summer? If you're pretty sure your air conditioner is to blame, your first step should be to have the air conditioner looked over by an HVAC technician. If they verify that there's nothing wrong with the unit that could be causing it to waste energy, then it's time to look upward: to your roof.
Your roof is a huge source of heat transfer into your home. Sunlight warms the roof, and that warmth is then transferred into the top floor of your home. The more heat that comes through your roof, the harder your AC needs to work -- and the more electricity it uses.
So, how do you reduce heat transfer through your roof to lower your AC bills? You have several options.
Improve your insulation.
Your attic and the underside of your roof should be well insulated to reduce heat transfer. If your insulation looks discolored or compacted or if it has shifted to the side, replacing it will help you save. Another option is to upgrade to spray foam insulation, which is a better insulator than fiberglass. The substance must be sprayed onto the underside of your roof by a professional, but it's well worth the cost because it will bring your AC bills down while also protecting against water damage. (Spray foam repels moisture, rather than absorbing it like fiberglass.)
Invest in a cool roof coating.
Cool roof coatings are light-colored, reflective coatings that you can have sprayed on your roof. There are formulas that work well with asphalt shingles, metal roofs, and even cedar shakes. Light colors absorb less warmth than black colors (this is why you wear light-colored shirts in the summer). Plus, the slight metallic sheen of cool roof coatings makes them even more reflective.
Replace your roof with a more reflective option.
If your roof is nearing the end of its life, perhaps replacing it completely is the best way to reduce your AC costs. A new roof will be less leaky (in terms of warm air, not just water). You can also choose a heat-reflective option such as reflective shingles or metal roofing. Talk to a roofing contractor, and let them know that one of your roof replacement goals is to save energy in the summer. They can let you know what options work well in your area and are compatible with your home's structure.