Ways to Renovate Your Home for Extreme Heat in Dallas


How to keep your Dallas house cool and comfortable while saving money during the hottest days of summer

Dallas extreme heat reno

Anyone who lives in Dallas knows about its legendary heat. March and April’s fair days in the 70s are nice but they never continue. Average maximum temperatures in Dallas in July and August hit a whopping 96 degrees F. Your air-conditioner is the largest contributor to your energy bill in the summer. While your own house will rely on that on the hottest days, Sweeten presents plenty of other ways to keep your house cool and supplement the A/C.

All of these changes will help you prepare your home from Dallas’ extreme heat. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Install a whole-house fan to keep cool

One way to assist your air-conditioner or even replace its operation on less intense days is with a whole-house fan.

In your house, the lower areas below the attic are artificially conditioned to a set temperature, often in the low 70s F. As the day progresses, your unconditioned attic builds up heat. By the end of the day, it is at its hottest.

Even though your attic may be insulated, a tremendous amount of heat has built up. The lower areas’ air-conditioning is working overtime to fight against it.

A whole-house fan draws air through open windows and pushes it out through the roof. The attic is completely ventilated, as well. Many whole-house fans have an air exchange rate of up to six times the volume of the house.

Speak with your contractor about the possibility of modifying the existing ducts of your HVAC system to provide whole-house cooling.

Paint your home with lighter colors

Most of us learned in school that lighter colors absorb less heat than do dark colors. To a limited degree, the same idea applies to your home.

The U.S. Department of Energy has found that dark-colored homes absorb up to 70- to 90-percent of the radiant energy that strikes the house from the sun. Heat on the outside of the house can transfer to the inside, resulting in heat gain.

Does this mean that you should paint your house white? If you wish to, you should do so. But any type of lighter colored paint or siding color will considerably reduce heat absorption. These are creams and ivories, light tans, beiges, blues, and pastels such as peaches, lavenders, and greens. 

Choose cooler roofing materials

Roofs bear the brunt of the Dallas sun. Selecting the right type of roof can reduce heat. Up to one-third of the heat that builds up in a house comes through the roof.

One common misconception is that selecting a lighter-colored roof will do the trick. Not so: a study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that even white composite shingles absorbed 70-percent of the solar radiation. Essentially, the roof is blasted with so much solar radiation, that the selection of color alone will do little.

One lower-cost solution is to have a coating applied to the shingles. Containing glass fibers and aluminium particles, this coating ward off radiant energy to a degree that lighter colored shingles cannot.

More effective, though, is to choose a type of roof material that is less thermally reactive. Terra cotta and ceramic tiles, concrete tiles, and slab concrete are good choices.

Even metal roofs are good choices due to their built-in dead-air space. This space acts as a thermal barrier to block heat transference to the house below.

Choose a siding that beats the heat

The better insulated your home is against the heat, the cooler it will be inside. While in-wall and ceiling insulation are important, siding also will prepare your home from Dallas’ extreme heat.

Vinyl siding typically leaves a space between the siding and the house. Insulated vinyl siding fills that hollow space with a rigid foam plastic insulation. This insulation is permanently attached to the back of the siding. All insulated vinyl siding products must have an R-value of 2.0 or more. R-value is a unit of measurement for thermal resistance. Higher R-value numbers mean greater insulating efficiency.

Masonry siding products such as brick and veneer stone help protect your home from the heat. Fiber-cement siding contains a great quantity of mineral materials, too. 

Add continuous exterior insulation

You cannot have enough insulation when battling the heat. While walls have been insulated internally for decades, a newer form of insulation adds even more of that much-needed R-value.

By itself, continuous insulation falls mid-range in terms of R-values—8.5 is considered typical for 2-inch thick continuous insulation. By comparison, standard two-by-four wall systems usually receive R-13 insulation.

But the real benefit lies in its name: continuous. Continuous insulation severs those thermal bridges that draw hot air into the home. Wall studs or any materials that extend from the outside to the inside through the walls can act as thermal bridges.

It only takes one view through a thermal imaging camera while standing outside on a hot day. Before continuous insulation, telltale blue ribs indicate the stud thermal bridges. After continuous exterior insulation, those blue lines disappear and your cool air stays inside your house.

Buy the best windows for Dallas’ heat

Wall systems that are fully insulated are always the best way to prepare your home from Dallas’ extreme heat. But no one wants to live in a house with no windows. Instead, buy the best possible window for that wall opening:

  • Double-paned windows are standard, no matter where you live. For maximum heat protection, choose triple-paned windows.
  • Look for windows filled with Argon gas.
  • Choosing low-e (low emissivity) glass is considered a must in hot climates. Low-e is a coating that blocks much for the ultraviolet and infrared light from the sun. By controlling these two types of light, you control the passage of heat into the house.
  • Get your numbers straight. For hot climates, keep an eye on three numbers listed on the window’s sticker: U-Factor, SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient), and VT (Visible Transmittance). You will want a low U-Factor number, a low SHGC number, and a high VT number.

Install and maintain roof vents

A whole-house fan pulls hot air from the entire house, including the attic, and expels it. Roof vents expel only air from the attic.

Ventilated attics can be as much as 30 degrees F cooler than unventilated attics. Chances are good that your home already is ventilated, and most newer homes are. The question is whether those vents are adequate for your needs.

For homeowners, calculating the number and size of needed roof vents can be difficult. Factors such as the presence of a vapor barrier, roof slope, type of roof, insulation, and more come into play. A qualified professional such as a roofing contractor can help with calculations and with installing the roof vents.

If your home has a vaulted or cathedral style ceiling or a flat roof, you will have no attic. With these types of roofs, ventilation works differently: the open plenum is within the roof itself. 

More ways to keep your house cool in extreme heat

  • Install exterior awnings over windows that receive the brunt of the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • Install ceiling fans in each room. Note that ceiling fans rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise. During the summer, you will want the ceiling fan to turn counter-clockwise.
  • Have your yard landscaped to add trees and shrubbery on the sunny side of your house
  • Add thick thermal draperies to your windows

There are many ways to keep your house cool in extreme heat, from changes to the house siding and windows and the attic. Whether upgrading your whole house or adding some supportive cooling elements, taking action will endure your summers are comfortable for years to come.

A good place to start your remodel is by setting a realistic budget. Our home renovation cost guide for Dallas can help you.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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Sweeten Founder Featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition


Jean tells Extreme Makeover why a licensed general contractor is important

Sweeten founder on the importance of licensed general contractors on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Sweeten on the set! Founder Jean Brownhill stopped by the set of HGTV’s hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to lend her advice on licensed general contractors (and muscle!) for a deserving family’s renovation. Check out the behind-the-scenes footage of her visit. 

Planning a home makeover of your own? Sweeten handpicks the contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (00:06)

Jean! Hey, how are you?

Jean: (00:07)

Hey, I’m great. How are you?

Design Team Darren Keefe: (00:08)

I wanted to introduce you to our builder, Dave.

Builder Dave: (00:10)

Hey, nice to meet you.

Jean: (00:11)

Hi Dave.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (00:11)

Jean’s with Sweeten.com, and she specializes in matching homeowners with renovation experts. And so she’s seen demos, renos, and all the kinds…(laughs).

Jean: (00:22)

Oh, yeah, we literally have seen everything.

Builder Dave: (00:22)

Yeah.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (00:23)

We’re really glad to have Jean from Sweeten here because we have this un-permitted breezeway that the Holtzclaw’s inherited. And she knows what it takes to solve these problems.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (00:33)

A lot of times that happens, you’ll buy a home and you think you can renovate something that’s been un-permitted and it’s like peeling back layers of a nightmare, right?

Jean: (00:40)

It’s like a Pandora’s box. So once you touch one thing, you know this?

Builder Dave: (00:45)

Yeah.

Jean: (00:45)

Everything has to be up to code.

Builder Dave: (00:46)

Yeah.

Jean: (00:46)

You can’t just fix the electrical. You have to fix the plumbing, you have to fix the structural, and the foundation. And I think that people think that like, “Oh, I don’t need to hire a licensed general contractor. You know, it’s too expensive or it’s too cumbersome.”

Builder Dave: (00:57)

Yeah.

Jean: (00:58)

But the reason why there is a license to be a general contractor is because you have people’s safety in mind. And this space is obviously not that.

Builder Dave: (01:06)

Absolutely.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (01:08)

So first thing that we need to do is strip all these walls. So we’re going to demo all these walls, get it down to studs.

Jean: (01:12)

Amazing.

Builder Dave: (01:12)

All right.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (01:13)

All right, You ready?

Jean: (01:13)

Yeah.

Builder Dave: (01:13)

What are we waiting for?

Design Team Darren Keefe: (01:14)

All right, I got a hammer for you. Swing away.

Design Team Darren Keefe: (01:20)

Nice.

Sweeten founder and CEO weighs in on what to know before renovating a brownstone.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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Meet The Cast Of HGTV’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition


On Sunday, February 16th HGTV will debut their reboot of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. During its original run from 2003-2012, this family-friendly reality hit, which originally aired on ABC, was one of the most beloved shows of the early aughts. But, HGTV could not be a more appropriate network in 2020 to give the audience a feel-good show focused on design. 

During its original run, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was hosted by Ty Pennington with a variety of designers and celebrity guests coming and going over the seasons. In its new incarnation, Pennington’s role is filled by Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Casting also found the perfect dynamic trio in designers Breegan Jane and Carrie Locklyn along with carpenter Darren Keefe. 

Meeting the cast in person, not only did the three have incredible chemistry (the kind of chemistry you can’t fake), but they were truly excited to be a part of this production “I think we’re all very grateful for the incarnation that existed before us and so happy to step into this role and carry the flag for this amazing show,” says Keefe.

The New Cast 

Before being cast, Jane was best known for her work designing high-end homes and properties. Her name may sound familiar to some because she’s a media personality who regularly speaks at events and has appeared on KTLA in Los Angeles as well as The Hallmark Channel nationally. She also authored a children’s book titled Carbie

Locklyn will certainly be recognizable to fans of The Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible where she served as lead designer. She has also been featured on several HGTV and DIY Network shows including Don’t Sweat It and Garage Mahal.

However, the mother who calls New Jersey home, didn’t start out as an interior designer, rather she pivoted from a previous career as a professional organizer. On the show and in real life, Locklyn applies organizational methods to design, telling me her philosophy is that “great design can’t start without great organization.” 

Rounding out the cast is Keefe, who was born in Northern Ireland into a family of craftsmen. He moved to the Midwest as a teenager, but ultimately settled in Los Angeles. In 2017, he founded Drumcree Designs, creating one-of-a-kind handcrafted furniture pieces for celebrities and businesses. With his charming Irish accent, he provides a warm, calming presence to the show.

New Era, Same Formula

While the reboot will in some ways be different than the original, it’s still a tearjerker.

“It’s such an enormous show and it’s such a huge experience to be able to change people’s lives through design,” says Locklyn. “I mean, we all love design, at the core, but to be able to walk into someone’s house and walk into someone’s life and change their tomorrow. I mean, that’s really what this show is about.”

Functional Design

While many HGTV shows emphasize the glamour of design, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a bit different. Every family had specific needs and challenges that had to be prioritized over aesthetics, at least at the beginning of the project. 

“We go in and we learn the story of the family, we see the family, we see their stories, we pinpoint what it is they need, and we move from there,” says Locklyn. “So we always start every design with practicality, organization, and functionality. Because we want these homes to be something that the families can grow with. We don’t want anything in the home to become a burden for them. We always say what is your story? What are your needs, and how do we attack that?”

As an expert in customizing furniture, Keefe’s skills were crucial. “Everything I designed was specific to the family. We really made sure that whatever we were building or designing, really fit the family. So a lot of the things that I built were at their specific request,” he says.

Unlike many HGTV shows where different designers and personalities build things with a signature aesthetic in mind, there simply couldn’t be a singular design template applied to all the projects on Extreme Makeover.

“Each home had a very different personality,” says Jane. “We were all pulling together. So each home is like a completely new style. Not any two were alike. They had completely different color palettes.”

Celebrity Guest Stars

Much like the first incarnation, there is no shortage of celebrity guest stars on the new show. Ty Pennington will return for several episodes along with Anthony Anderson, Derek Hough, LeAnn Rimes, Laila Ali, and Tyler Florence making appearances. A roster of HGTV stars including David Bromstad, Tamara Day, Tarek El Moussa and Jasmine Roth also grace the show this season.

Behind The Scenes

The cast gladly revealed how important the aspect of community was to the show. Many of the families featured are known locally for their own efforts to give back. In turn, their communities, even complete strangers, volunteered to help with the builds.

But, even with a massive crew working around the clock, there was no way to complete each project in five days (really, just five days) without the help of volunteers. 

All The Feels

While there are ten episodes slated for the upcoming season, this is hopefully only the beginning of a long run.  

“I think that it’s rare that TV is this positive and inspiring. And so to be a part of that was amazing. But I think that’s what we all loved about watching it,” says Jane. “And I want more content like this across all of our TVs. And I think this show really shows that viewers are looking for those heartfelt stories. They’re looking for something that’s bigger than them. And that’s what made me tune in, in the first rendition. And I hope that brings people back again now.”



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