Out-of-staters tend to have a romantic view of California weather. They think it’s 72° Fahrenheit and sunny most of the time with little change throughout the year. 

Yes, California weather is generally fantastic, but residents can still experience extreme heat, droughts, and even wildfires during the summer. These conditions present unique challenges for homeowners.

With weather-related challenges in mind, here are seven remodeling ideas perfect for your California home.

1. Heat-Resistant Building Materials

Adding heat-resistant building materials is the most practical remodeling idea for Cali houses. You need materials with high solar reflectance and low combustibility on the outside and proper insulation on the inside. These are the best outdoor materials for hot climates threatened by wildfires:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Stucco
  • Gypsum

The roof also plays a significant role in temperature regulation. These durable and heat-resistant materials are familiar sights on the tops of California homes:

  • Slate
  • Terra-cotta tiles
  • Asphalt shingles
  • EPDM membranes

On the inside, type X or C gypsum boards are widely used non-combustible drywall options. The insulation underneath is the most crucial part of the house for keeping cool air indoors. Identify the spots where heat passes through your walls and add new reflective insulation to those areas.

2. Upgraded HVAC System

Outdated air conditioning (AC) units don’t stand a chance against the heat of California summers. Upgrading your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is a significant step in ensuring that your house stays cool amidst high outdoor temperatures. However, it’s not as simple as replacing your old units with new ones.

You also need to consider ideal locations for the units and how you can make the whole system as energy-efficient as possible. As a general rule, the best rooms for ACs are on the north and east sides of the building. These walls keep the units shaded for most of the day, allowing them to emit 100% cold air without interference from sunlight.

A smart thermostat or smart AC controller would also make valuable additions to your HVAC system. They automatically regulate your home’s temperature and humidity levels, but you can also create a custom schedule from your mobile device. Both attributes help limit the system’s energy consumption and save you money.

Lastly, you can never have too many ceiling fans. They’re more efficient than AC units and increase the air circulation throughout the home. The bathroom is the only room in the house where a ceiling fan doesn’t work — everywhere else is fair game.

3. Large Doors and Windows

Homes in hot climates need airflow to stay chill and comfortable — an HVAC system can only do so much. Installing larger doors and windows allows more air to move around the house. This renovation is especially beneficial for kitchens and bathrooms, as these rooms can heat up quickly while cooking a meal or taking a shower.

One unique structure that’s gaining popularity in warmer climates is glass garage doors. They create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors, providing strong air circulation and allowing you to enjoy more natural light.

To maximize the effectiveness of large openings, you must create a clear pathway for the air to travel through. Opening a door or window at parallel points in the house will allow wind to enter and exit, creating a pleasant cross breeze and cooling effect.

4. Low E-Coating Windows

Despite your best efforts, the hot afternoon sun sometimes overpowers your home’s cooling appliances. Instead of baking in the heat, you can counter California’s intense solar radiation by installing low e-coating windows.

These windows deflect infrared and UV rays while allowing the same amount of light to enter the room, increasing your home’s energy efficiency with no visual change. If you don’t want to replace the glass, you can add a UV-resistant film to your existing windows to achieve a similar effect.

Your home’s orientation to the sun is essential in determining which windows you need to replace. Windows facing south and west get the most intense sunlight throughout the day, so prioritize replacing them first. If your windows predominantly face north and east, you might be able to get away with replacing just a handful of windows.

5. Lighter Paint Colors

You’ll rarely see a house in SoCal with predominantly dark paint colors — these absorb sunlight and heat up fast, while lighter colors reflect sunlight and stay cool for longer durations. These colors would make great additions to your California home:

  • White
  • Beige
  • Mint
  • Sky blue
  • Pastel yellow
  • Pastel pink

Of course, you also want to choose colors that match the contents of your home. White and beige match almost everything, but the other colors have a little more nuance. That’s why it’s helpful to do your other renovation projects first and save the painting for last.

6. Humidity-Absorbing Houseplants

Most plants tend to increase humidity in their environments, but a few species have the opposite effect. Consider adding some humidity-absorbing houseplants for a low-stress home update, like:

  • Palms
  • Ferns
  • Orchids
  • Begonias
  • Peace lily

These plants have large leaves and similar bushy structures that gather water from the air, acting as natural dehumidifiers. They absorb so much moisture that you only need to water them once or twice a week. Adding a few plants to the warmest rooms in the house can make a surprising difference.

7. More Shade

Outdoor renovations like pools and decks are popular among California residents, but many homeowners make the same fatal mistake — not adding enough shade. If you want to enhance your home’s outdoor experience, add a pavilion or awning to provide a shady area.

Tracking the sun will significantly impact the design and layout of your shaded structures. You want to arrange them so they provide the most shade later in the day when the sun is lowest and hottest.

You could also use landscaping and plant more trees in your yard. Spring and fall cleaning will be more of a chore, but you will have much more shade to work with.

Stay Cool and Comfortable in California

California weather can get rather intense during the summer despite its admirable qualities. These seven remodeling ideas will keep your home cool and comfortable no matter the outside temperature. Evaluate where you can make some improvements and get to work.