In my ongoing mission to conserve energy (and thereby lower my electricity bill), I'm always looking for ways to tweak my energy efficiency. Some of these cost money initially, but my favorites are the ones that are almost free. Check this one out.
My garage/wood shop is of the attached-to-the-house variety as I described in the recent walk-in-pantry article. Because of the way the house is located, the exterior brick wall gets a lot of afternoon sun, which is quite fierce in the summer. The bricks absorb the heat and relay it into the garage. And of course, it used to make the AC work very hard to cool the kitchen area.
My solution? I attached some lattice to the brick and planted some English ivy in a 10" terracotta pot at the base of it. It really likes the lattice and had not issues with climbing up it. It's also starting to spread to the non-lattice area by setting its creepers into the mortar. I did this about three years ago; it's not an instant fix. But once it takes off, it acts as a natural insulator and really looks great!