Keep  Your Home Cool This SummerIt’s summer, and the heat is getting practically unbearable. You drink lemonade, eat ice cream, and take cold showers to mitigate the heat, but you want a more long term solution. What home improvements can you make to keep your home cool this summer—and for many summers to come? Here are a few:

Central Air. If you’re keeping your home cool with fans, window air units, or a swamp cooler, then the time has come to invest in a central air conditioning system. A single unit circulates air to your whole house, allowing you to adjust the thermostat to you preferred temperature.

Zoned Cooling. If you already have central air and your house still isn’t being properly cooled, you might consider upgrading to a zoning system. A regular air conditioner has a single thermostat in a single room, and cools the entire house based on its readings. But there can be as much as 10 degrees difference between one room and another, particularly if you have multiple floors. A zoning system separates your home into sections based on its specific cooling needs, and puts a thermostat in each section. That way, your whole home is cooled to a single, uniform temperature, without wasting energy sending cold air where it’s not needed.

Ceiling Fans. Ceiling fans are a great home improvement that can be used in conjunction with your air conditioner to save energy. Run your ceiling fans at the same time as your air conditioner, and you can turn the thermostat up about four degrees, with no reduction in comfort. The wind chill factor from the fan as it blows on your skin will make the air feel cooler than it is. And since ceiling fans use very little energy, the amount you save from turning your thermostat up will far exceed the amount you use turning the fans on.

Insulation. Insulation is important both for keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It slows the flow of heat, keeping it out of your home in summer and locking it in during the winter. This helps your air conditioner work more efficiently, as it doesn’t have to work as hard to get your home down to your desired temperature. The most common place for insulation is in the attic, but it can also be installed in your floor or in your walls, for extra protection. Most homes, even if they have insulation, don’t have enough, so it’s always important to check, and make sure you’re properly protected.

Trees. This is a great, natural way to make your home cooler. Planting a few shade trees in strategic places outside your home will shield you from the sun’s harsh rays and keep your home cool during the day.

There are all sorts of other home improvements you can make to keep your home cool. Many of them will also save you energy and even increase the resale value of your home. Do some research and see what kind of cooling upgrades will work best for your property.