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You Could Be Saving Energy with Residential Awnings: 7 Facts to Prove It

Like most homeowners, you’re interested in new ways of saving energy that aren’t too complicated. And residential awnings are a good place to start looking.

Why do you want to cut your energy use?

  • Maybe you’re looking to reduce your energy costs. Lots of households find they reach their financial goals faster when they find ways to use energy more efficiently.
  • Or, your awareness of the environmental cost of excess energy usage may be your motivation. Behind all that electricity flowing to your HVAC unit is the burning of fossil fuels associated with adverse climate change.

Whatever drives your interest in saving energy, you might be surprised how simple some of the solutions are - as simple as installing residential awnings.

Below are 7 facts from a study by PAMA (Professional Awning Manufacturers Association) on the effects of awnings on energy use in the southeast U.S. to show you what we mean.

residential awnings

1. Residential awnings can save you as much as 34% on annual cooling costs.

On a typical year here in the southeast U.S. (we serve Savannah, GA, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, SC, and surrounding areas), homeowners can save around $187 per year on air conditioning, just from the shade provided by awnings.

In this study, that accounted for 34% less than the homeowner would have otherwise spent. And the reduction of 3,453 kWh in energy usage, when multiplied by every home in the region properly dressed with residential awnings, amounts to a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.

2. On an especially hot year, they can save you a bit more.

The study also took readings in a hotter than average year, and found that overall cooling savings increased by about 18%. That’s because the power of shading your windows is more pronounced with the increase of exterior heat.

The hotter the air outside, the harder your AC unit has to work to regulate the interior temperature. Sunlight radiating through your windows dramatically increases that burden by heating the interior air. Simply shading your windows stops that solar radiation effect.

residential awnings savannah

3. Your most dramatic savings will be from west-facing awnings.

It’s interesting to note that if you’re going to start installing awnings anywhere, the most bang for your buck is not where you might think it is.

It may seem like putting awnings over south-facing windows would help the most with saving energy, because they get the most sun. But while it’s true you get a lot of benefit from shading south-facing windows, the study found higher energy savings from west-side awnings.

This suggests the effects of solar radiation are more pronounced on hot summer evenings, when the lingering sun keeps the outside air hot before it sets. Your air conditioning is still working hard to regulate the interior temperature and shading helps a lot.

residential motorized screens beaufort

4. Savings increase with the angle of your awnings.

The PAMA study also compared awnings that extend straight out from the exterior wall at a 90-degree angle against 165-degree awnings, which are angled downward to provide additional shading.

The added savings provided by those extra 75 degrees of shading is as much as 5-6%. It’s interesting to note that in the hot year study, that number increased to as much as 9% for east-facing windows. It seems lower awnings in the early morning makes a big difference.

5. Savings also increase when awnings are darker.

You can give yourself an additional edge by choosing darker awnings, as darker colors absorb more of the sun’s rays than lighter colors.

To illustrate the point, the study compared linen awnings (which we can assume were either natural grey or dyed with light colors) with black awnings. In most cases, the savings on cooling cost was increased by around 3-4% due only to the choice of the darkest possible color.

(Of course, we’re getting fairly nit-picky here. At some point, we think it’s okay to sacrifice a few percentage points to get the color you really want!)

residential awnings st simons island

6. Retractable awnings drawn back in winter produce the best results.

There is a period of the year in which shading works slightly against you. In winter, the solar radiation effect is welcome because it reduces the load on your furnace to heat the home on the coldest days.

The study showed that net energy savings - taking into account both heating and cooling costs - were about 9-12% when awnings were only used during the cooling season (February-December), and only about 6-7% when in place throughout the year.

Your simplest solution for this is to install retractable awnings. If motorized, all it takes is the push of a button to pull them back and enjoy the energy benefits of full sun in January.

7. To further improve results, add solar screens.

Finally, the study compared the effects of awnings installed over clear windows with awnings over “glazed” (low-E) windows.

This coating helps block UV rays and reduce solar radiation. Naturally, the awning effect was less dramatic for a good reason: window coverings that refract more sunlight provide extra support to the cause.

But what if you don’t have low-E windows? You can get similar benefits from solar screens. Like retractable awnings, these window coverings can also be motorized. It’s easy to lower them for energy savings or raise them to enjoy the view through your fully clear windows.

saving energy

How to Get the Most Out of Your Residential Awnings

Let’s review. While you don’t have to do everything on this list, here’s the PAMA-recommended recipe for saving energy with awnings:

  1. Get awnings for all windows.
  2. Choose 165-degree awnings over 90-degree awnings.
  3. Go with darker colors.
  4. Get retractable awnings to benefit from winter solar gain.
  5. Add solar screens.

And who can help you get it done? You guessed it - Coastal Canvas! If you live in any of these or surrounding areas ...

  • Savannah, GA
  • Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Bluffton, SC
  • Palmetto Bluff
  • Beaufort, SC
  • Richmond Hill, GA
  • St. Simon’s Island, GA

… contact us now to request your free estimate. Let’s start saving energy together.


We love helping families like yours save energy and money. Here are a few examples:

Brown Residence - Loved everyone - great job!!

Jones Residence - Very good service! The product, install, and overall experience was excellent. Thank you!

Bonner Residence - Coastal Canvas Products is #1 in my book!

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