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Mrs. Goofy and I have a South facing house with lots of windows. The sun beats down through those windows from morning to night and makes it hot, hot, hot. We can counter it with the air conditioning of course, but we’d rather find a more efficient way to handle it. The deck outside those windows also gets ungodly hot, so maybe these can be handled at the same time. Maybe not.

We’re considering a pergola, shades, or awnings.

I was at someone’s office the other day and they had “mesh” shades, black, which gave the windows the appearance of having a dark tint. This would be good, but I wonder if that just stops the heat from traveling farther into the house. The sun comes through the window and hits the mesh shade. Doesn’t the heat just get absorbed into the shade and therefore into the house anyway?

It’s the most attractive of the options, but if it doesn’t really change the total heat gain then it’s probably not going to achieve one of our goals.

Opinions?

(A pergola would have to sit on the deck, so there are structural considerations, and we get some real wind at times, so that argues against awnings. But none of the answers are perfect... )
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I have tinted film on my windows. It helps.

An awning may be the best solution. They make them that can roll out over a larger area that might cover your deck. In my area thunderstorms come through from time to time. So I think large awnings have to be retractable. But smaller ones for individual windows might work.

My family room and breakfast nook are on the west side and get hot sun in the after noon. I have vertical blinds on the slider that I close when it gets sunny. Tinted windows. And AC set to lower temp from 2 pm to 8 pm. Just turning on the furnace fan helps even out the temps but setting the thermostat timer does that automatically.
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Our house is rectangular in footprint. The walls are within 2 degrees of North, South, East & West - True North, not magnetic.

We have some west facing windows. In order to keep these rooms reasonable in hot summer, we put window tinting on them. We opted for a film that would minimize the temperature gain in the west facing room.

We also had "store front" windows installed in a screen in porch - this room have windows facing East and South mostly. Just the morning sun on a clear day will keep this room above 60F even when the exterior temperature is roughly 35F. There are 4 easterly and 4 southerly windows roughly 48 by 88 inches. In late June the heat pump for this are was running at 80% of capacity with exterior temperatures below 80F to maintain the room at 77F. Lowering the blinds immediately reduced the heat load such that the heat pump cycles between Off and 25% of capacity.

To help control temperatures in converted porch we installed some Hunter Douglas brand cellular blinds. These were the Applause line. These are set inside the window jams and have an 1/8 inch clearance between the edge of the binds and the window jams.

Without question the Hunter Douglas approach is superior to the tinting film. The film was more expensive per square foot installed.

We live in Gainesville, GA.
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Low E glass
a quality tint with high heat rejection (for cars and houses)
sunscreens (e.g. https://sunscreenfactory.com/window/sunscreens-for-windows/ )*

The sunscreens are mounted OUTSIDE. They replace your regular bug screens.

Shade is good, of course. But these other options work, too. Eaves or awnings can do very well.

Ideally, you want eaves that cast shadows over the windows in the summer (when sun is high), but let sun in during winter (when sun is low). Combined with Low E glass, and you're in pretty good shape.

1poorguy (in Phoenix @109F as I type this)

*Note that I'm not recommending these guys. Don't know anything about them. They just had photos when I googled "window sunscreens"
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Heat gets transferred via 3 methods: Radiation, conduction and convection.

A pergola with a screen or shade only addresses the radiation; and possibly causes a slight reduction in conduction since it may make the shaded outside air slightly cooler.
I have built a pergola which I put a solid covering on for 5 or 6 months starting in the Spring.
(It is really just a custom sewn sheet that gets tossed in the laundry every year and replaced every 4 or 5 years)

To minimize conduction you need better insulation, higher R-value windows, double/triple panes, etc. Conduction heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference. So when it really gets hot (more than 15 or 20 degrees delta this dominates your heating. I place custom cut 2" foam into some of the east/west facing windows. I also use aluminum bubble insulation (Reflectix) which reduces both radiation (by reflecting) and conduction (by some insulation)

Probably can't do anything to affect convection unless you want to make your house wall into a swamp cooler.

There really is a 4th method, and this is air infiltration. i.e. air leaks. Sealing air leaks everywhere in your house really helps. As the air temp goes up (due to radiation heating and conduction heating in your house the hot air rises and finds its way out all your poorly sealed cracks, etc. This will cause hot outside air to get sucked in to replace this air, thus heating the house. This happens a lot later in the day.

I have no A/C. Today it was in the mid 90s outside and I closed up my house in the morning when it was 67F and came back at 5pm to a 71F house. I should note I have a 10x10 south facing glass solarium that hit 100F with its windows open. A strategically (pre-existing/lucky) placed shade tree on SW side and insulating drapes help a lot -- but sealing up air leaks helps all year, hot or cold.

Mike
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One of the best solutions can be shade trees. My maple trees drop their leaves in the fall. Warming sun in winter is good. But shade in summer helps much.

My house was built in 1995. I moved here in 2006. Previous owner had no trees. I planted two maples intended to shade the west side. One grew very well and is now three stories tall. It shades most of the family room after abt 7 pm. The other one turned out to be a runt. Its getting taller but still has a ways to go.

Shade trees are great if you can arrange it. They take patience and mother nature does not always co-operate.
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I have tinted film on my windows. It helps.

I have applied tint to 10 of the windows (each the size of a patio door.) I paid someone to do it in the bathroom to pass code for a non-tempered window; ghastly expensive, and I thought I could do it myself.) I only screwed up one, surprisingly not the first. It was the 3rd or 4th, which I foolishly tried to unpeel and restick while it was still wet, and I got a crinkle in it. (You do it by spraying the window and the back of the film with water, then marrying them and squeeging out the bubbles.) Quite easy, much cheaper (but still not cheap), but we need more.

If we go awnings they will have to be retractable because of wind. Indeed, we will get motorized/solar (Sol Lux is a brand) which does it automatically so we don’t have to monitor it. Also expensive, but hey it’s only money.

We have a total of 22 large windows which face South, so this is a pretty large/expensive project. Directly out those windows is the Tennessee River, so no, “trees” are not an option. As is installing “blinds” which block the view. What’s the point of having a gorgeous view of the river if you’re just going to block it? That’s why I’m investigating “see thru mesh”, as I saw in that office building.

We’re also not replacing all those windows, although we did change out 4 of the old, clear sliding patio doors with new, low E glass doors. Two more will turn into low E French doors in another week or so (ordered in January!). That still leaves a lot of glass to be dealt with.

We’re also looking at pergolas which you can open & close the top of, some do it automatically. They’re fairly heavy and this is on a 2nd story deck, so there are structural considerations, plus a pergola is *always there* and we may not like that feeling. Dunno.

Ideally, you want eaves that cast shadows over the windows in the summer (when sun is high), but let sun in during winter (when sun is low).

Yeah, well we have eaves that are pretty long and not nearly long enough. Changing the roofline - and the cedar shake roof - is out of the question.

To minimize conduction you need better insulation, higher R-value windows, double/triple panes, etc.

I’m not worried about conduction. All the windows are at least double pane, some triple pane. What I want to know is if you have open mesh shades *inside*, isn’t the heat already inside the house by the time you “stop it”? If the shades get hot and the furniture doesn’t, great, but if the heat just radiates off the shades for hours after then it hasn’t really changed the total heat entering, so no A/C savings.

So too summarize: lots of windows, not going to replace. Tint already applied to half. Shades already exist, but they block the view. Thinking of replacing shades with open mesh “light filtering” (most likely). Also about awnings. (2nd). Last about pergola(s).

Just another project in progress. Already have bids on pergolas and awnings. Thinking about DIY awnings with tarp (I just finished a DIY Bimini on our pontoon boat; working good) or other solutions.
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The thing about blinds (or drapes etc) is you can close them in the hottest part of the day. But enjoy that nice view the rest of the day.

They block the hot suns rays and yes they heat up but provide a layer of still air that in a sense works like insulation.
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One of the best solutions can be shade trees. My maple trees drop their leaves in the fall. Warming sun in winter is good. But shade in summer helps much.

For those wanting to plant trees, realize that you can plant trees that keep their leaves to the west because the winter sun (that you want) doesn't get around to the west unless you are down near the equator.
Unless you like raking up leaves

Mike
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I’m not worried about conduction. All the windows are at least double pane, some triple pane. What I want to know is if you have open mesh shades *inside*, isn’t the heat already inside the house by the time you “stop it”? If the shades get hot and the furniture doesn’t, great, but if the heat just radiates off the shades for hours after then it hasn’t really changed the total heat entering, so no A/C savings.


Once the heat is in, its in, generally.
Shades don't have much thermal mass so they won't radiate for hours.
They might provide a small reduction in conduction if they are very close to the glass. This is because they'll provide a small pocket of hotter air that will reduce the delta-temp from the outside to the inside...just like the trapped air behind a curtain.

Mike
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What I want to know is if you have open mesh shades *inside*, isn’t the heat already inside the house by the time you “stop it”? If the shades get hot and the furniture doesn’t, great, but if the heat just radiates off the shades for hours after then it hasn’t really changed the total heat entering, so no A/C savings.

If the shades get hot, which seems reasonable, they will radiate. If both side are the same, they will radiate half the heat into the house and half back to the windows, some of which will go outside. So there is a gain there. I could imagine that if the sides are different, they could be engineered so more heat goes out the window side of the shade, making them more effective.
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Seems to me a lattice patio cover might work for you.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lattice+patio+cover&tbm=...

(That ugly URL is just a google image search on "lattice patio cover".)

The basic idea is the "cover" is wood standing on edge to provide shade while allowing some light in. Rain or snow would fall through, and wind can blow through it as long as the slats are not too close together. When you're outside, you have a pretty direct view of the sky, so you don't feel like you're completely covered. It's somewhat like being in the shade of a tree.

I would hazard a guess that since this is an elevated deck, most of the view is down, so blocking a bit of the sky isn't a big problem.

When planning this patio cover, you want to think about the direction the sun will come in. You want to run the roof slats in such a way as to block the sun at the right time of day. For a south facing view, you probably want to run them east to west. Running north to south would allow the sun to shine in the windows at mid-day, which is probably not what you want.

I'm not really answering your heat gain questions. But this would certainly keep the gain from direct sunlight down. Nothing like a bit of shade to help on that front.

--Peter
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Unless you like raking up leaves

Shade trees are a long term investment. You will want to choose wisely to find ones compatible with your climate and your lifestyle.

I like my mapletrees. They are bright red in the fall. Drop their leaves fairly quickly. And so far I can mulch them with my riding mower. A few trips over the leaves and they are gone. I learned a long time ago, each trip over the leaves with a mulching mower reduces their volume by a factor of as much as 10. And reduces their tendency to blow in the wind.

I have also had oak trees. They drop their leaves all winter long. I had problems with galls.

I have had pine trees. They don't do so well in Missouri. Drop their needles once a year.

My maple trees have matured and now drop their springtime helicopters. I get lots of maple starts in my garden. But I don't mind. Its a small price to pay for a nice tree.

My maple tree has kept its arms short to grow mostly up in the space available. I suppose for sunlight. So tall and rather narrow compared to some maples.

I notice my maples show the whites of their leaves when they are conserving water. Its an indication they are thirsty. Time to water them.
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I'm surprised your eaves don't already do that job, actually. However, extending them with a retractable awning could work. Or constructing a patio cover or pergola of some sort near the windows.

Trees are perhaps the best solution. Provide shade in the summer, no shade in the winter (if they're deciduous), and are generally good for the environment. As long as you can place them where they will shade your windows. You mentioned a deck under some windows, in which case the tree idea might not work well.

The exterior sunscreens are remarkably effective. We had them on our old house (vaulted ceilings meant the roofline was too high, so no shade on the windows).
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https://www.google.com/search?q=lattice+patio+cover&tbm=...

(That ugly URL is just a google image search on "lattice patio cover".)


I grew frustrated with those sorts of crazy long URLs. The extra nonsense is tracking information of one sort or another. I found that I can usually figure out where the good part ends and the garbage starts and shorten them before posting, or sending to someone in an email. I copy it and past it into a plain text tool like Windows Notepad. In this case I truncated it at the end of the first occurrence of the word cover, and tested it in a browser. It worked fine.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lattice+patio+cover

(Yeah, this is OT, but at least it is about fixing something.)
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tree feeder spikes. for the weaker tree might make a difference.
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tree feeder spikes

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try it.

To keep it away from my garden I planted it back on the edge of the property. Thats near a 15 ft down slope on the lot behind me and abt 4 ft from a concrete stormwater tunnel on this side (parralleing the property line). Earth covered but little room for roots. Twice it grew to about 10 ft and then the wood died. I let it resprout from the roots and grow into a bush. The soil back there is terrible. Construction fill with chunks of broken concrete. Nothing I plant back there does very well. But eventually the tree seems to have gotten its roots established.

Two years ago I considered cutting the side branches of the shrub to give a main tree. There are about four of them. Cut one and the tree did not like it. But now seems to be doing better. And taller. So maybe will be ok with patience.
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Shade trees are great...
hand up...

Yeah... Just... not... oak trees.
I am blessed (really) with plenty of shade from living in a 2 acre "canyon" of 60 foot tall trees. But because they are mostly oaks...
tens of thousands of acorns in the grass, plants, patio... to rake out starting in September.
tens (hundreds?) of thousands of appetizer-plate-size leaves that do not decompose...
dead sticks and branch ends coming down every windy day...

The cost of that shade is that there is not a spring, summer or fall week free of dealing with some oak tree shrapnel in the yard.

I would not trade the 20 years I have had in this beautiful place for anything (well, except a villa on the Amalfi coast or something, but that didn't happen ;-) -
but if I'd known, I would have burned some of the oak for firewood or sold it to a mill and let everything else grow, and we are getting a little old for this -

so put up maple, hickory, elm, beech, birch, even willow... just not oak. It's meant for the woods.

FC
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Agreed, mighty Oaks are tough. Brother's home has a monster in the front yard in Roseville, CA, can't guess at the hight, but over 60 feet, with mighty arms, 18", way out there. one part broke off, wiped out the corner of their 2 car garage.. Acorns are huge, 1-1/2" or more, messed up his gutters for years until gutter guards came along.. There has to be sone really happy squiirels in the area, feasting! It dominates the yard.. Likely 3' diameter at the base.. A monster!
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There’s an organic general fertilizer called Texas Tea that I use. I was skeptical the first time, but became a believer when I applied it to a struggling tree by hand broadcast just before a rain.
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I like my mapletrees.

There is an issue with maple trees. They are shallow rooted. That means you end of with large roots at the surface of your lawn. In the end, you may end up having to mulch the whole area because shade and roots will not allow grass to grow.

PSU
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Shade trees and grass. Shade and roots have not been a problem so far. Maple tree is still young. Abt 8 in in diameter.

I'm aware of people who say trees suck up so much water in a drought they can kill the grass beneath them. Growing grass under a shade tree is not just lack of sunlight but also moisture. A neighbor had a tree cut down for that reason.
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We lived in Dubai for many years, and had Sun Sails strung in places that needed shade. Sort of like awnings, but not quite.

Like these things:

https://shadesails.com/custom-sails

Rip
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