What You Can Do to Reduce Heat Islands
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Follow the tips below to help reduce the heat island effect and improve your community’s resilience to heat waves.
- Increase shade around your home
Planting trees and other vegetation lowers surface and air temperatures by providing shade and cooling through evapotranspiration. Trees and vegetation that directly shade your home can decrease the need for air conditioning, making your home more comfortable and reducing your energy bill. Trees also protect your family’s health by improving air quality, by providing cooling shade for outdoor activities, and reducing exposure to harmful UV radiation.
- Install green roofs
A green roof, or rooftop garden, is a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop. Green roofs provide shade and remove heat from the air through evapotranspiration, reducing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. Green roofs absorb heat and act as insulators for your home, reducing energy needed to provide cooling and heating (which decreases your energy bill), improving indoor comfort, and lowering heat stress associated with heat waves.
- Install cool roofs
Cool (or reflective) roofs help to reflect sunlight and heat away from your home, reducing roof temperatures. This allows for your home to stay cooler, reducing the amount of air conditioning needed during hot days. According to a study conducted in California1,cool roofs can provide annual energy savings of almost 50 cents per square foot. Such energy savings can also result in better air quality in your community and fewer greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.
- Use energy-efficient appliances and equipment
Using efficient appliances and equipment in your home can help to lighten the load on the electric grid during heat waves, thus ensuring a more reliable supply of electricity to your community. When purchasing products, look for EPA’s ENERGY STAR label to help you make the most energy-efficient decision. You can find the ENERGY STAR label on more than 60 kinds of products, including appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. Replacing your old appliances and equipment with ENERGY STAR-qualified products can also help save you money.
- Check on your friends, family, and neighbors
Heat waves can be dangerous for people’s health and safety, particularly for the elderly, young, sick, and poor. Checking on your friends, family, and neighbors during hot days and making sure they have access to air conditioning or cooling centers will help to prevent heat-related illnesses and death.
1. See the Cool Roofs Chapter of EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies.