Believe it or not, improving your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t require an advanced energy science degree. It’s really just a matter of being more aware of choices and recognizing whether they save or waste energy. Individually, some energy-wasting practices might not amount to much, but when you add them all together, you’ll gain a better picture of how how much you could save. To help you live Live Brighter, our Energy Efficiency ‘Round the Home series will showcase ways you can lower your home energy usage and possible reduce your monthly energy bill.
Energy Efficiency on Deck!
Everyone loves a good deck or patio for entertaining. These places are excellent outdoor living spaces that allow us to relax outside where we can enjoy birds, the green summer leaves, and even all the bright summer sunshine. But too much of that summer sunshine can make the area too hot to enjoy.
Don’t sweat it! Cooling off your deck or patio is really just a matter of bringing in some shade. There are lots of ways to accomplish this goal: most of them easy, and some of them expensive. While they all help cool your deck or patio, they also bring in important visual design elements that can make your outdoor living spaces even more inviting, enjoyable, and perhaps even better than your living room.
Awnings and canopies
Retractable awnings and canopies that extend from your roof do a great job of shading any outdoor space. You can unroll them or retract them depending on your need and the weather. For the most part, however, how well they work depends on the direction your house and deck or patio faces. In some cases, you may also need to build a separate support structure (such as a pergola) to hold the canopy.
Portable shade canopies and gazebos
Inexpensive, free-standing canopies and gazebos provide shade, shelter, and intimacy that can be perfect for dining outside. Many come with bases that let you bolt them into the decking to keep them stable and fixed in place. Many also come with mosquito netting, making them a BIG seller if you live in an area that might see Zika virus mosquitoes this summer (or normal mosquitoes in any other summer).
These make a great portable solution. Not only are the big, cantilevered umbrellas adjustable, but they can be folded up and stored away easily — which is especially important during severe summer weather.
Other Cool Options
Light-colored area rugs help keep the decking cooler by reflecting away the harsh sun’s rays. Since rugs don’t retain heat and cool quicker, they’re perfect for little ones to play on even in their bare feet.
Canopy lounge furniture
Many makes and models of outdoor lounge furniture come with built-in canopies. A fancy outdoor day bed is another fun example of outdoor furniture that lets you relax in glorious shady comfort while providing you with some additional privacy.
Don’t Forget Landscaping
Many homeowners like having a large grassy lawns. Unfortunately, great expanses of grass get very hot in the summer. Careful landscaping around your home with shrubs, bushes, flower beds, and other landscaping features create a “micro-climate” zone. During summer, decks and patios absorb day time heat and radiate it at night. Shading them with trees, shrubs, or vines can make the air around your home cooler at night.
Plants also help reduce ambient humidity, mosquitoes, and storm water run-off that can cause flooding from poorly drained yards. Not only will surrounding your deck or patio with plants add the cool, deep inviting green of summertime, but if you plant berry bushes, such as raspberries or blackberries, you can reap a delicious mid-summer snack.
Bathroom energy use siphoning away your savings? Stay tuned next month when Energy Efficiency ‘Round the Home heads to the Bathroom! We’ll help you feel flush (with cash)!