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5 Tips for Managing Shade around Your House

As the summer months roll around, homeowners in hotter climate zones know all too well what’s coming: Many days of the sun beating down incessantly on your house and surrounding grounds contributing to the rising indoor temperature making the season purely uncomfortable. With the demand exerted on already high energy bills from using the air conditioner, there must be alternative measures you can take to help bring down the temperature during the hottest season of the year, and, indeed, there are. Here are five tips for managing shade around your house:

Let’s Start with Landscaping

Landscaping not only beautifies your property, but it is also a natural way to shade your home. Using natural sun blocking from trees and other vegetation helps to lower your indoor temperature by as much as 20 degrees. Planning your planting will give you top advantage for your aim to use landscaping as a measure of lowering the temperature in and around your home while adding aesthetic value to your property.

  • Plan to plant for summer cooling but remember to avoid blocking the south-facing sunlight. Even if you decide on deciduous trees that lose their foliage in the winter, those bare branches are enough to block the warmth from sunshine in the winter.
  • Be mindful of the direction of breezes that can help cool your property and avoid creating a dense line of evergreens that end up creating a wind break.
  • Vine trellises should be set away from the house to encourage air flow and to prevent a heat trap while also preventing vines from attaching to the building.
  • Be aware of underground concerns when planting trees and large bushes where the roots can cause damage to the foundation, underground wires, plumbing lines or septic tanks.
  • Select trees and plants conducive to your local environment that will withstand the changing seasons and to keep maintenance to a minimum.

Exterior Shading Devices

Getting a jump on heat gain is key to controlling the interior air climate. While both indoor and outdoor shading devices control heat gain, exterior shades are more directly effective as they block the heat from the sun before it has the chance to enter the windows. You have options when selecting which shading devices to use. Do you want to open and close them daily or would you rather put them up only for the hottest season? You will also need to understand how they might impact the ventilation to your house.

Among the Options for Exterior Shading Devices Are:

  • Awnings
  • Shutters
  • Louvers
  • Rolling shutters and shades
  • Solar screens

Made of metal or fabric, awnings effectively block direct sunlight. Attaching above the windows and extending downward, properly installed awnings can reduce heat gain by as much as 77 percent on eastern-facing windows and as much as 65 percent on southern-facing windows. The lighter the color, the more powerful they are in reflecting sunlight. Ensure a gap exists between the top of the awning and side of the building to ventilate accumulated heat from beneath solid-surface awnings. To capture winter heat gain, you are better off removing awnings for the winter or opting for retractable ones.

Interior Shading Devices

Roughly 40 percent of heat gain comes through the windows of your home. Curtains and drapes are the most effective indoor window coverings for preserving the desired indoor climate both in winter and summer. The tighter the curtain is against the surrounding wall around the window, the more it can keep either the cold or heat from penetrating the interior. The best materials are those made of tightly-woven opaque fabrics. A light-colored drape, or one that has a light color facing the window will better reflect the sun’s rays.

Other Interior Shading Devices Include:

  • Venetian blinds
  • Cellular shades
  • Opaque roller shades

One of the drawbacks of interior shades is the reduction of light. Indoor shutters and blinds give you the ability to adjust the angle of light that enters the room to help reduce heat gain and avoid using interior lighting that tends to defeat the purpose.

Limiting Heat-Generating Sources

Incandescent lamps have been all but phased out of the market and replaced by more energy-efficient light bulbs. The energy used by incandescence is given off as heat, so you should only be using them when necessary. Fluorescent lighting uses 75 percent less energy and emit 90 percent less heat than incandescent lamps. If you have not switched to compact fluorescent lights, you could make the most of the daylight by using interior shading devices that you can control.

Other household appliances such as dryers, dishwashers and ovens are often overlooked as sources of heat gain inside the home. Considering the constraints energy providers put on the use of these appliances during the day, you can both save money and reduce heat gain by putting off using them until later in the evening or very early in the mornings.

Saving Energy Using Alternative Cooling Methods

It needs to be said. We have become spoiled by the HVAC unit, but it is the one energy hog we can learn to moderate. You can upgrade an existing system that has a programmable thermostat to save the most when using your air conditioner. It is possible to supplement natural cooling with such mechanical devices as oscillating fans, ceiling fans and evaporative coolers. They use far less energy to operate than the A/C.

Utility companies continue to offer rebates and cost incentives for energy-saving appliances, installing insulation and switching to energy-efficient lighting. You can contact your local utility to learn more about what you can do to take advantage of these benefits. By adopting some of the strategies mentioned here, you may find the summer season easier tolerate and less expensive to get through. One thing is sure: with the graceful tree covering in the cool of the evening, you can have a garden oasis for a nice respite at the end of the day.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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