Building Heat Gain: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

Heat Gain

Ideally, your air conditioner (AC) should only handle the unavoidable heat in your house. Additional heat in the house only makes the AC work harder. Understand how your house may suffer heat gain and what you can do to minimize it.

Heat Gain Causes

Anything that increases your house's interior temperature is a heat gain cause. However, you can classify heat gain sources into these two categories.

Indoor Heat Sources

Indoor heat sources generate heat from within the house. Examples of indoor heat sources include:

  • People
  • Electronic and electrical devices
  • Light fixtures, such as bulbs and strips
  • Cooking appliances (during operation) such as ovens, stoves, and air fryers
  • Water heaters

The more of these things you have in your house, the more the heat gain is. For example, having incandescent lights on, baking, and watching television will generate more heat than watching television with the other heat sources off.

Outdoor Heat Sources

Outdoor heat comes from the sun or outdoor air since the outdoor air is usually at a higher temperature than many homes' interiors. The sun's heat reaches the house's interior in several ways. For example, poor insulation allows heat from the sun to penetrate the building envelope and heat your home. Some building materials also absorb heat and radiate it into the house.

Heated outdoor air mainly reaches your home's interior through gaps in the building envelope. For example, warm air can pass through tiny gaps around your windows and doors. Gaps around plumbing and electrical conduits that originate outside the home also allow warm air to affect your home.

Heat Gain Effect on AC

The AC cools your house by absorbing heat inside the house and dumping it outside. Heat gain increases the heat the AC has to transport outside, which overworks the AC. An overworking AC has long cooling cycles and short off cycles. Below are some of the things that happen if the AC overworks:

  • Some AC parts might experience accelerated wear and tear, shortening the system's life
  • The AC might experience more frequent breakdowns than usual
  • The AC's energy consumption will increase

In the end, heat gain is bad for your finances even if the AC keeps your home cool.

Heat Gain Prevention

The best way to deal with heat gain is to identify its sources and deal with them. For example, you should:

  • Switch from incandescent to LED bulbs since the latter produces little heat
  • Ensure your home's insulation adequately protect it from heat gain; for example, you can replace damaged insulation
  • Cook outside the house on extremely hot days
  • Avoid running multiple heat-generating appliances or electronics simultaneously
  • Seal gaps around your windows and doors
  • Replace windows and doors with materials that  don't allow heat to pass through
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent heated air from entering the house
  • Paint your house with light colors to reflect sunlight
  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances and electronics

An energy audit can also help you identify sources of heat gain so you can plug them.

In addition to the above measures, remember to maintain your cooling system to serve you well even on hot days. In addition to protecting your AC, efficient cooling is good for the environment in terms of reduced energy consumption.

Contact Valderrama A/C & Refrigeration for AC installation, maintenance, and repair. Our extensive experience in the HVAC industry means no job is small or big for us. Please let us know of any questions or concerns you have so we can answer and resolve them for you. That way, you’ll have peace of mind that your AC needs are in the right hands.