External Hard Surfaces
Minimising the number of hard surfaces outside your home, like concrete or asphalt, and choosing lighter colours for paving will help lower heat retention, reduce energy costs, and may improve the air quality around your home. The ‘urban heat island effect’ occurs when cities replace large areas of natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement that absorb, store, and radiate heat. This leads to greater energy usage and reduced air quality, all of which get amplified by climate change. This impacts cities on a large scale, but also has an impact locally where you live.
Instead of pavement, consider vegetation and garden beds, and try shading any hard surface areas with structures such as pergolas or overhanging trees. For any pavement or roofing renovations, choose lighter colours that will absorb and radiate less heat. Before purchase, make sure to check the Solar Reflective Index (SRI) of your roofing or pavement material, which is a measure of the solar radiation an item will reflect. The higher the SRI number, the more comfortable you’ll likely be indoors and the less air conditioning you’ll likely need.
Easier solutions for homeowners and renters include installing outdoor umbrellas and adding pot plants to help reduce heat on or near areas of pavement.