Awnings have been around for quite a long while now, and thankfully for us, they are enjoying a resurgence. In the 1930s, when summer temperatures were at record highs across the US, they were a common sight on the fronts of businesses and homes.
There is really nothing complicated about the awning; its principle and its design are really quite simple – the awning keeps things in the shade, and the shade keeps things cooler.
The energy savings from using awnings are significant. And most awnings are retractable, which means of course that you can allow the sun in during the winter months when you have a stronger desire to welcome the sun’s warmth into your home.
First, let’s look at some of the types of awnings available:
1. Retractable awnings are good for RV owners and those who want to block the sun only at certain times of the day. Retractable awnings are less expensive than permanent ones. They have supporting arms that attach to the structure and a hand-crank type of mechanism for rolling the awning up. Some of them are motorized – press a button and the awning retracts.
2. Aluminum awnings are usually enameled in a variety of colors. They do not roll up, but they are tough and durable. Some manufacturers claim that aluminum awnings actually increase air circulation, helping to cool the home.
3. Canvas awnings are perhaps the most familiar to many of us. They can also be colorful, and come in retractable or permanent styles.
4. Patio covers are simply really big awnings, and have the effect of adding another room to your home – a room that doesn’t require air conditioning! Patio cover awnings come in aluminum, wood, and vinyl.
But how do awnings save energy?
1. They shade your windows, through which the sun enters your home and heats it significantly. If you have awnings, your air conditioning bills will decrease quite a bit. Your house is simply cooler without the sunlight pouring in – some sources say that your house will be anywhere from 8 to 15 degrees cooler.
2. As more people use awnings, the overall energy use of a community is decreased. This saves the utility companies money, which in turn means savings for consumers.
3. An innovative new idea is coming to the fore with regard to awnings’ energy efficiency: photovoltaic awnings. This concept takes the energy efficient notion of an awning and applies it literally. Photovoltaic awnings will have solar cells on them that make use of the sunlight as they block it from entering your windows.