Awnings for Decks

Adding awnings for decks or patios is a great way to increase the enjoyment and comfort that you and the family can receive while spending time outdoors. It’s also one of the more efficient ways to address high costs of electricity in the summer, by helping to offset the need for running the air conditioning. Indeed, installing awnings for home use may just be one of the most efficient ways to lower your utility bills and heighten the livability of your yard at the same time.

It’s not just functionality that benefits from awnings either, there are other impacts as well. Often there is an abrupt disconnect between “inside” and “out” where the environment changes dramatically for those trans-versing the boundary between the two. With an awning for your deck, you help to meld the “inside” and the “out” together to soften that boundary and make for a better gradient to soften the impact of moving from one to the other.

Much the same effect can be had visually as environmentally as well. Awnings can give your deck a hybrid look that’s somewhere in between the confines of the house, and the open air of the yard. This helps the house and landscaping to look like they fit together better, by blurring the boundary between them. At the same time, you can introduce new and vibrant colors to the mix with the canopy of your awning if you like. Awnings often look quite good with bold colors and patterns. Just be careful not to overdue it, you don’t want to detract from the rest of the landscaping and house.

Passive Energy Efficiency

When talking about energy efficiency implications of awnings for decks and patios, it’s important to note that the effects can vary drastically in regards to the orientation of the house and features. This is due to that fact that in the Northern hemisphere, the sun is in the Southern half of the sky, and the afternoon sun in the Western sky is more of a concern when it comes to heating than the morning sun from the East. All this means that awnings or other coverings that limit sunlight are most effective on the South and West faces of your home, and may not make much difference in regards to energy efficiency if on the North or East.

For that reason, if you wish to help reduce your energy bills and make your home more environmentally friendly, it is important to design the features of your house to take advantage of this situation. An awning on a South facing deck can help to reduce the amount of energy from the sun hitting the house, and can do so in rather dramatic fashion.

The Details of Awnings’ Impact on Air Conditioning

To understand just how big a deal this can be, we need to get a bit technical. Direct sunlight varies in intensity throughout the year and even through the day, but in general will apply about 1000 watts (or one kilowatt) of energy per square meter. This is quite a lot of energy as on average, most homes will only use about 2 to 3 kilowatts per hour on average. However when running an air conditioner, that number can go up quite a bit. A standard air conditioner may use around 6 kilowatts of electricity. More than the rest of the house combined in most cases!

To offset that, awnings for decks and even windows can help to reduce the amount of warming energy coming into the house, and they accomplish this passively. A 3’x5′ window is a bit more than one square meter, and so can let in about 1 kilowatt when the sun is directly shining through it. A window will block some of that energy, especially if there are screens, but still it can be quite a savings if you can keep the direct sunlight out altogether.

Also, even though most homes have pretty good insulation, some of that heat that is building up on the exterior of the siding can still bleed through and warm the interior of the house. All this means is that a medium sized 15’x10′ blocks about 14 square meters of sunlight, or 14 kilowatts!

Now of course not all of that energy would have been applied to the house, much of the shading is on the deck itself. Not to mention that not all awnings will block 100% of the sunlight. Aluminum awnings for decks will block all the sunlight, but at the same time may radiate heat downward. Canvas awnings on the other hand will allow some light through, but also allow heat to flow up through the awning and escape. In any case, not all of the energy would have entered into the house anyways, as the insulation in the walls would have kept much of it out. But still, it’s not a stretch for such an awning to make a difference of 2 or even 3 kilowatts during the hottest portions of the day. That means you may be able to cut your air conditioning down by half! That can be a dramatic savings on your electric bills, and may even be able to pay for the awning over time.

The Ins and Outs of Retractable Awnings

Perhaps the biggest consideration when it comes to awnings is not if they are worth getting, but which of the many types will be best for your needs. Permanent awnings for decks and patios have a lot to offer, but at the same time will close off the sky permanently too. Sometimes it can be nice to open things up, like when you want to watch the sunset or look at the stars from the comfort of your deck.

For this reason retractable awnings for decks are very popular. You can have the cool shade when you want it, and when you don’t you can retract the awning and have the open sky to enjoy. There’s a lot of choices in this regard too, as manual awnings for decks compete with motorized ones. Which is right for you is often more a matter of preference than any hard evidence.

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