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How to Cool a Barndominium in 5 Different Ways

Without the right design choices, you may find it difficult to cool your barndominium during the summer. Barndominiums include unique heating and cooling properties. The frame, siding, and roof are often made from metal, which offers pros and cons related to energy efficiency.

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If you want to cut down on your utility bills in the summer, use the following guide on how to cool a barndominium.

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Are Barndominiums Energy-Efficient?

Barndominiums include several features that help make them more energy efficient compared to standard houses. First, barndominiums often include metal roofs. Metal is not typically a good insulator, but the modern metal roofs found on barndominiums reflect more heat. Metal roofing can reduce cooling costs by up to 25%.

Many barndominiums also feature tall ceilings or exposed ceilings. The extra height makes it easier to cool the lower portion of your barndominium in the summer but also increases the challenge of heating your home in the winter.

Barndominiums can provide increased energy efficiency compared to standard houses. Using the right insulation, efficient AC systems, and optimizing the airflow in your barndominium can dramatically reduce cooling costs.

How to cool a barndominium largely depends on the following factors:

  • Roof ventilation
  • Insulation
  • Airflow
  • HVAC systems

Your ability to keep your barndominium cool also depends on the outdoor climate. Cooling efficiency decreases in areas with hot, humid weather. Luckily, the following steps can help you maintain a comfortable temperature.

Properly Ventilate the Roof of Your Barndominium

Hot air exhaust vents

The roof is the area that tends to have the largest impact on heating and cooling any type of building. Hot air rises, which heats the upper portion of your barndominium. If hot air cannot escape, you may struggle to keep your home cool.

Some barndominium owners make the mistake of completely sealing their homes. You want to ensure that the roof includes adequate ventilation to improve its cooling efficiency. This typically involves installing hot air exhaust vents near the peak of the roof. You may also add intake vents near the lowest part of the roof, allowing cool air to enter through the attic.

Add More Insulation to the Walls of Your Barndominium

The cool air inside your barndominium can easily escape without adequate insulation. Here is an overview of how different types of insulation compare:

  • Blanket insulation (roll or batt) – R-3.8 per inch
  • Foam board insulation – R-3.2 to R-6.5 per inch
  • Blown-in insulation – R-2.2 to R-2.7 per inch
  • Spray foam insulation – R-3.6 to R-7 per inch

Most experts recommend adding insulation with an R-value of R-13 to R-25 in the walls. As barndominiums have deeper wall cavities, you should have no problem reaching an R-value of R-25.

Use an Open Floorplan to Increase Airflow

Choosing a design with an open floorplan may improve the cooling efficiency of your barndominium. Floorplans with narrow hallways and multiple rooms block airflow, making it more difficult to cool your barndominium and keep it cool. Restricting airflow keeps cooler air from reaching every area of the barndominium.

An open floorplan includes spacious living areas with fewer walls separating the main spaces, such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The open design allows air to easily travel from the wall or floor vents through the rest of the barndominium, which helps keep the entire living space cool.

Install Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

How to cool a barndominium with energy-efficient HVAC system

After sealing the walls, venting the roof, and maximizing airflow, install an efficient air conditioning (AC) unit. Improving the energy efficiency of your barndominium keeps the AC system from having to work harder to keep the temperature down.

Some of the details to consider when choosing an AC system for your barndominium include:

  • Square footage of living space
  • BTU of the air conditioner
  • SEER rating

In most cases, a whole-home AC system is the most efficient choice for cooling a barndominium. The AC system can deliver cool air through the same ducts used by the furnace during the winter. As the cool air is distributed throughout the home, you can lower the temperature faster compared to using a window unit.

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To choose the right AC system, determine the square footage of the living space that you need to cool. Use the square footage to find an AC system that delivers enough BTU. The typical recommendation is to install an air conditioner with 20 BTU per square foot of living space.

For example, if you have 1,000 square feet of living space, you should install at least a 20,000 BTU AC unit.

You should also pay attention to the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. All new AC systems in the United States have a SEER rating of at least 14. However, the most efficient units have ratings of 22 or higher. A more efficient unit costs less to run and is likely to last longer.

You can also supplement the AC system with ceiling fans. Installing several ceiling fans in a barndominium with an exposed ceiling can help hot air rise while pushing the cool air back down.

Block or Reflect Heat on the Exterior of Your Barndominium

Overhang and awnings providing shade to windows

The previous steps should ensure that your barndominium stays cool during the summer. However, the following solutions on how to cool a barndominium may offer even greater energy efficiency:

  • Install overhangs and awnings
  • Use lighter or more reflective materials
  • Use landscaping to provide more shade

Installing overhangs and awnings can provide shade for windows. Windows are a common cause of decreased cooling efficiency. While some cool air may escape through worn window seals, the bigger threat is the sun shining on the windows throughout the day. The shade provided by overhangs and awnings helps block more sunlight.

Metal siding and roofing options for barndominiums include a variety of materials with reflective coatings. A reflective coating on the roof reflects more of the sunlight, keeping it from heating the roof or sides of the barndominium.

You can also find siding and roofing products with lighter finishes. Darker colors absorb more light, which increases the temperature of the material. The heat absorbed by the roof or siding is then transferred to the cooler interior of your barndominium.

The right landscaping features also help keep your barndominium cool. Planting trees and shrubs can provide shade for the west-facing and south-facing sides of your home.

When adding plants close to the foundation of your perimeter, only use trees and shrubs with shallow, non-invasive root structures. Choosing the wrong types of plants increases the risk of roots growing into or under the foundation.

Last Thoughts on How to Cool a Barndominium

Cooling a barndominium involves several considerations. You first need to ensure that your barndominium is properly sealed and vented. Installing the optimal amount of insulation helps keep cool air inside and hot air outside. Roof ventilation is needed to keep hot air from accumulating indoors.

Choosing a barndominium design with an open floorplan may also assist with cooling. An open floorplan allows air to flow through the barndominium with less resistance.

You can block or reflect additional heat by installing overhangs, awnings, or more landscaping features. Using lighter or more reflective materials also helps minimize the transfer of heat from outside into the inside of your barndominium.

Your barndominium also needs a suitable AC unit. Installing a whole-home AC system allows you to quickly cool the interior and enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures on the hottest days of the summer.

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