We all know that Energy Star appliances, compact florescent and LED light bulbs and energy conservation help make your home greener, but what about more passive methods such as solar heat gain prevention or passive solar design? In this post, we’ll discuss how adding passive shade features such as shade trees, awnings, deep porches, window films and pergolas help you save on summer cooling costs by providing shade as well as how several of them can be used to increase solar heat gain during the winter.
Summer Only, All Natural Shade
Pergolas: Pergolas not only add shade, they add a touch of class to your home. These structure have wooden slats on top of a square or rectangular frame that vining and climbing plants such as ivy, wisteria or morning glories can use as a trellis. As they reach the top and cover it in vines, you’ll have a great source of shade. Even better, you’ll have a lovely shady spot to enjoy the outdoors this summer, surrounded by beauty. By setting up a pergola in front of a western or southern facing window that gets a lot of sunlight, you’re keeping that solar heat out of your home. In the winter, the vines die back, allowing that sunlight in to provide passive solar heating for your home and reducing your heating bill.
Shade Trees: Depending on the species, trees can provide shade either seasonally or year-round. Conifers and evergreens typically provide year-round shade – one exception being tamarack, which loses its needles in the fall – as well as a windbreak if you have strong winds in your area. Deciduous, or hardwood trees typically provide shade only in the summer as they lose their leaves in the fall, allowing sunlight through and providing passive solar heating during the winter – pin oak being an exception which holds its leaves through the winter until the new leaves emerge in the spring. Well-established trees also help add value to your property, especially when they are part of a well-planned landscape design.
Year Round, Man-Made Shade
Awnings: Awnings are canopies made of canvas, wood or metal that provide shade over windows or doors to help lower the amount of sunlight able to get into your home. By reducing this source of light, your solar heat gain will be reduced, making it much easier to keep your home cool in the summer.
Deep Porches: A porch that is at least eight feet deep or even deeper typically shades your windows during the summer, when the sun is at a higher angle. This also allows sunlight in for passive solar heating during the winter, when the sun takes a lower angle in its path across the sky.
Window Tinting or Film: The windows in your home can have film added that provides tinting or reflection, reducing solar heat gain by either reducing the light intensity or reflecting the light back outside of your home. Some solar films will remove as much as 98% of light ultraviolet spectrum, helping keep your home cool and comfortable.
Now that you’ve got a few ideas on what you can do to decrease solar heat gain in your home to minimize your cooling bills in the summer, it’s time to try working out how these details and projects can be helpful in your home. Planning a new home? Why not let Acorn Deck House Company help you plan every detail for the best energy efficiency, perfect functionality and a beautiful home? Please feel free to contact us for more details.