Awnings are Green!
Take awnings for example.
- When it’s too hot, we want to stop the sun heating our homes and businesses.
- When it’s cold, we want the sun to warm us up.
- When it’s raining or snowing, we want protection.
The nice thing about awnings, is that they can do all of these – and more!
Benefits of Awnings
They are truly multi-purpose:
- Awnings can keep your home or business cool in summer, by blocking the sun.
- Awnings provide protection from rain, snow and sleet.
- Awnings make outdoor dining and parties more enjoyable by protecting from the weather.
- Retractable awnings allow the sun in during winter.
- Awnings can add an extra room to your home.
- Awnings can provide advertising for your business.
- Awnings can help prevent carpets and furniture from fading in sunlight.
- Awnings provide a sheltered place for children and pets to play, shielded from direct sun.
First, let’s look at some of the types of awnings available.
1. Retractable awnings are good when you want to block the sun only at certain times (for example, only when it’s hot). Retractable awnings may be less expensive than permanent ones. They can be rolled up by a hand-crank or they can be motorized – just press a button and the awning retracts.
2. Aluminium awnings are usually enamelled in a variety of colours. They don’t roll up, but they are tough and durable (often lasting more than 40 years). Some manufacturers say that aluminium awnings actually increase air circulation, helping to cool the home.
3. We’ve all seen canvas awnings keeping shops and stalls cool. They can also be colourful, and they come in various 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 aluminium or wood (check to make sure the wood is sustainable, and the aluminium should have a high percentage of recycled material). Patio covers also come in vinyl but this is not an eco friendly material and may off-gas.
New Types of Awnings
Solar Awnings contain solar panels – they make use of the sunlight as they block it from entering your windows. So you save electricity by needing less cooling, and you generate electricity from the solar panels. (Isn’t that cool?). That’s what I call a win-win!
Shade Sails aren’t really new (they were used in Roman times) but are also enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Where I live for example, I wanted shade for our car (living in a very hot climate, it’s important). A garage is expensive and uses considerable resources. Instead, a shade sail provides an elegant solution which not only looks good, keeps the car cool, is eco friendly (it’s made from canvas), but also acts as a rainwater catcher, so my garden’s happy with it too!
But how do awnings save energy?
- They shade your windows. Your house is simply cooler without the sunlight pouring in, so not only is it more comfortable in summer, but it also reduces your need for air conditioning. It is more effective to stop the heat from hitting your windows (which is what awnings do), than to try to cool a building after the sun has come in. If you have awnings, your air conditioning bills will decrease.
- Most electricity in the USA is produced from coal – so by decreasing your electricity use by needing less air-conditioning, you’re helping to reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned.
- As more people use awnings, the overall energy use of a community is decreased. This is good for the planet, and also means savings for consumers.
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Photo Credits: awnings.com and weinor.com