Whether you've just decided to move out to a desert climate or you're already there and wondering how you can live more efficiently, it pays to know some start strategies for coping as a homeowner with the hot, arid conditions. Here are some ways you can enjoy the desert lifestyle as comfortably, affordably and efficiently as possible.
You can expect to go through a lot of water if you're trying to maintain the lush green lawn and shrubbery so commonly found in more temperate climates. Since water is generally in short supply in these areas, you can also expect to pay dearly for it and abide by a local watering rotation schedule. But this doesn't mean that you have to either watch your vegetation die or go broke trying to keep it alive. There's another option that can beautify your home in an affordable manner -- xeriscape landscaping, also known as xeriscaping.
Xeriscape landscaping makes use of hardy, draught-tolerant vegetation that can thrive in arid locations instead of fragile, thirsty non-native grasses and plants. For example, you might plant daffodils, myrtles, cacti and other such vegetation in beds of mulch surrounded by aesthetically-arranged stones and sculptures. Of course, even draught-tolerant plant life requires some water, but you can get by with an efficient drip irrigation system that delivers adequate water directly to the plants instead of spraying it wastefully. You can expect to save anywhere from 50 to 75 percent on your water bill with a properly xeriscaped yard, so talk with xeriscape landscapers in the area, like Bourget Bros Building Materials.
If you're still picking out your new desert dream home, give serious thought to what kind of cooling the home already has -- or will have, in the case of an older residence that may have no modern cooling system as of yet. While modern central air conditioning systems are popular throughout much of the U.S. for their ability to cool both dry and moist air, they can also run up a considerable electric bill in a hot climate. Many desert dwellers in the western and southwestern U.S. prefer a simpler, more economical option: the swamp cooler.
Swamp coolers can be built right into a home without a cooling system or added to a home that already has central air conditioning. You can get large units that serve entire large homes or smaller units adequate for rooms or other modest areas. A swamp cooler uses evaporative cooling, pushing air over damp pads to draw the heat out of it. This approach would have no effect in a humid climate -- but in the dryness of the desert, it can lower your home's air temperatures by 15 to 40 degrees. Best of all, they use only one-fourth of the energy required by a central air conditioning system.
When the desert sun is beating down mercilessly on your home, much of that heat can pass directly through your roof and into your rooms, even after you've done all your can to insulate the roof's inner surfaces. In this environment, ordinary dark-colored asphalt shingles can be just about the worst roof material you could possibly choose, since this kind of roofing tends to absorb thermal energy. If you want a cool desert home, start at the top with a cooler roof.
The simplest way to obtain a cool roof is to place a reflective layer on top of the roofing already installed. This could be a matter of painting the roof white (or another light color) to bounce those rays off the roof. Flat or low-slope roofs can be covered with reflective single-ply membranes that attach to the roof in large sheets. Roofs with more severe slopes can be resurfaced with light-colored tiles or modern shingles specially designed to reflect more thermal energy than traditional shingles. If you want shingles that not only redirect light but also provide free electricity, consider enhancing that cool roof with solar shingles.
Give these strategies some serious thought, and you may find desert life easier and more cost effective than you'd ever imaged it could be. Now, go enjoy that incredible scenery!