AURORA 11/3/2011 2:40:29 AM
News / Green

How Awnings Are Saving Electricity and Cutting Back on Bills

Window awnings have been shown to save as much as 25 percent on cooling costs

In the quest to save money on heating and cooling costs, often the best solutions are those that are simplest. Window and door awnings, for instance, have long been used as a way to provide weather protection and curb appeal for homes across the United States, but recently their energy-saving properties have been the focus of a lot of attention.

It is estimated that awnings can save as much as 25 percent or more on cooling energy in certain areas of the country, reducing a home’s internal temperature by 8⁰ to 15⁰ F. Awnings allow for natural daylight to permeate a home without the heat buildup that comes from direct sunlight, and for west- or south-facing windows, especially, these savings are significant.

There are two main types of awnings: hooded, which have sides additional to the top piece of fabric to block sunlight from entering in the sides, and Venetian, an awning that is made from a single piece of material with no sides that blocks perpendicular sunlight only. Hooded awnings, then, are made to block more sunlight and thus lead to more energy savings, but for those who prefer the look of Venetian awnings, these are generally effective for true south-facing windows that get the most perpendicular sunlight.

No matter what type of awnings are chosen, proper sizing is important to optimize for blocking the summer sun and allowing the winter sun to shine through for passive solar heating. The orientation of the window to the sun as well as your latitude affect how far away the awning must project from the house wall.

When it comes to energy savings, there is no real difference in retractable or fixed awnings during peak summer months, as they are both effective at blocking sunlight and reducing energy usage. During the winter, however, some homeowners may prefer retractable or adjustable awnings because they can be retracted or adjusted to expose more of the window glass and thus let more light in.

Another consideration for choosing window awnings is the material type. Fabric awnings are usually made from water-repellant, synthetic cloth and are traditional and effective at blocking sunlight. They also come in many colors, patterns, and designs. For areas that experience a lot of snow or rain, however, aluminum awnings may be preferred, since they offer sturdier protection.

Awnings are an important part of an energy-savings strategy which should include effective window and door insulation as well as efficient air and heating units. When used in conjunction with these methods, awnings is a successful method of saving energy and money.