My office is on the west side of the house. This time of year (and awfully early this year), it gets hot from the late afternoon sun. (Used to be I didn't have to worry about this until July ... but this year ... Whoa!) So, down comes the shade on the window overlooking the back yard.
Since we cut down a tree that was hanging over the pool (autumn leaves in a pool is a gigantic pain in the butt), our family room becomes an oven in the afternoon. We suffered through it for a couple of years, but it really puts a strain on the central air conditioning. So last week we put up drapes on the biggest window. It doesn't completely darken the room, but now we can't see outside during the prettiest time of the day.
All these lowered shades and drapes mean we're living a pretty insulated life. (Especially in my office, because it's a room darkening shade.) Okay, so we had a charmed (almost snowless) winter, but still, we wait for gorgeous summer days to enjoy warm breezes and the pretty flowers in our garden. This year, we're going for cool.
All this shade lowering has kept the house about 5 degrees cooler, which doesn't sound like much, but when Mr. AC is chugging away for more than 20 hours a day, 5 degrees less means it shuts off sooner.
We have faced the fact that our house doesn't have enough insulation. So we're going to have to do something about it. What, we're not yet sure . . . It's a crap shoot. If we don't spend the money on insulation, 'we'll spend more trying to cool it down in the summer. (And heat it in the winter.)
In the meantime, we'll keep shutting the drapes and lowering those shades.
What's your summertime beat-the-heat solution?