Awning Time   3 comments

Summer’s here, and with it comes our canvas awnings. Well, they’re not needed this week since the forecast high temperatures are the same or lower than our programmed A/C setting. But a couple of weeks ago, and fourth of July weekend, getting those awnings up quickly was imperative in the face of hundred degree temperatures with no evening Delta breeze.

We have the awnings from our old house, but unfortunately discovered that they don’t quite work here. We have larger windows and an open back patio that means we get no relief from afternoon and evening sun. The old four foot long awnings don’t manage to shade the entire window and sash, especially if there is a breeze. So we got longer six foot canvases at the hardware store. This is the only cotton item that I can think of where I voluntarily purchase a non-organic fabric. The painters drop cloths at the hardware store are perfect in that they have a tight weave that doesn’t let any sun through, but are thin enough that they let the light through. I tried canvas from the fabric store one year and it was eternal twilight in the house. Since we can, this year we bought strong metal screw-in hooks to hang the awnings from the eaves. Now there is no more need to go outside after a windy day and re-glue/replace fallen/broken plastic hooks. Up until the last minute we hadn’t decided if we wanted to continue using our “cheap” canvas awning strategy or do something a little nicer since we own the house now, but it really stands out as the best option. If/when we decide to do something else, the hooks on the eaves can be used for something else like hanging plants or windchimes.

Just a refresher, the awnings are part of my primary strategy for climate control in the house during the summer: keep the sun off. If the sun doesn’t shine on the walls, it won’t heat them up as much, which in turn doesn’t heat the inside as much or as fast; and if the sun doesn’t shine in the windows the interior of the house doesn’t heat up nearly as fast. This is vital for walls/windows that face east, and even more so for walls/windows that face west. For the last two weeks I experienced the difference first hand since our office is in the one room that doesn’t have an eave so we haven’t figured out how to hang an awning. (Disclosure: we also haven’t figured out how to shade the bay window in the living room since canvas hanging from the eaves isn’t really attractive, but those windows face south and are still fully shaded by the eaves.) During the last two weeks I worked from home to avoid the offgassing of the new carpeting at my work office, and even with a curtain completely shading that window from the inside all morning long that room was significantly hotter than the rest of the house. I’d be sweating in the office (with the door closed so as to not heat up the rest of the office), but the rest of the house stayed cool well into the afternoon. In fact, even at 8 or 9 in the morning there is a noticeable difference between the unshaded office and the master bedroom, even though they are right next to each other and the bedroom is occupied while the office is empty.

In addition to buying new canvas to fully shade the windows, we are also shading part of our back patio this summer. Mike had bought one of those collapsable canopies last year and for fourth of July we put it up in the patio and hung another awning (actually our tent ground cloth) on the west side so that part of the patio is in shade all day long. This also helps to keep the house cool because then at night there’s less radiant heat coming off the concrete. For that reason we plan on keeping the canopy up for most of the summer. It’s amazing that there’s still a difference in the temperature of the concrete at 10pm under the canopy versus the exposed areas. I look forward to getting rid of much of that concrete and reducing the thermal mass around the house.

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Posted July 12, 2011 by mayakey in energy use, home

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3 responses to “Awning Time

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  1. For the office window, can you attach the hanging flower pot basket brackets or something similar to the side of your house/window frame and hang the awning from those? They make ones up to 12″ long.

  2. Pingback: Keeping Cool Without Breaking the Bank (Or Not) | Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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