I love our house, and I especially love its location. But if I could change one thing, it would be its orientation to the sun. You see, in the summer, our house gets full sun on the east side in the morning, and full sun on the west side in the afternoon. It's utterly devastating - without air conditioning, the temperature in our house would be over 90 degrees on the hottest days when it's 115 degrees outside. Needless to say, our air conditioner works overtime on such days, and it shows on our electricity bill.
But things could be much worse. A few years ago, after we'd lived in our house for a couple of years, we had our windows tinted. Under our homeowners' association rules, we couldn't go that dark. But even the mid-level tint that we chose has made a huge difference.
The window tinting cost $600 about four years ago. That first year, I estimated our savings at $300. I haven't done the math since, but I assume our savings have increased with the rising cost of electricity. So tinting our windows has saved us over $1200 and counting.
If you're looking to reduce your cooling costs and the temperature in your house rises due to exposure to the sun, I encourage you to look into window tinting. Most of the house maintenance and improvement research falls on Marc's shoulders, and we had the work done several years ago. So I don't remember much about the experience anymore. I do recall that Marc found out what we needed to know online, then contacted several installers. We had one consultation, during which we picked the tint we wanted and the man (owner? sales manager?) took measurements. Then it took about a day for the man who actually applied the window film to do the work (we had every single window and our big sliding glass doors done). It was worth every penny!
Image credit: Amazon.com - Maximum Heat Control Window Film (affiliate link).