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THE SENSIBLE HOME

Awnings Work to Cool and Avert Fading

August 08, 1999|JAMES DULLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: The sun's heat and glare are pretty intense through our windows, and my furniture is fading. I have seen some attractive adjustable awnings. Are decorative window awnings effective?

Answer: New awning designs are very effective for shading windows, blocking 60% of heat. Awnings with decorator fabrics are becoming quite popular for use on homes, both for shading windows and for protection over doors.

Installing awning kits will not only lower your air-conditioning costs and improve your comfort, it can also increase the life of your furniture, carpeting, drapes, etc. The same ultraviolet rays that cause fading actually degrade and weaken the fibers in your indoor furnishings.

The new lightweight awnings, with strong aluminum frames (hidden under the fabric), require little maintenance. An occasional brushing of the awning fabric and rinsing with water and Ivory Flakes keeps it looking like new. Many awnings have a five-year warranty on the hardware and the fabric.

The basic design choices are retractable (adjustable) and fixed. Retractable awnings give you precise control over the level of shading year-round. In the winter, you may want to let more sun in for free heat. Keep in mind though, much furniture fading occurs in the winter too.

From indoors, using a pull tape or a switch, you adjust the awning position to cover as much glass as you wish. One small half-inch hole is all that is required for the tape. For the ultimate convenience, install a remote controlled electric motor. The motor is hidden in the awning fabric tube.

As you open a retractable awning, two spring-loaded arms keep the fabric taut for an attractive appearance. For privacy, security or during storms, some models (like the Solaro and Perma System) adjust nearly all the way down (160 degrees) so the awning lays almost flat against the window.

Fixed designs, because of their simplicity, are less expensive. When choosing one, it is important to have it sized properly. The correct size depends on the window size, your area's latitude and window orientation. They are also the easiest to install.

Write for (or download at http://www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin 736, a buyer's guide of adjustable and fixed awning kits, sizes, fabrics, features and an awning sizing work sheet. Please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Manipulating Airflow Without Using Fans

Q: It gets pleasantly cool some summer evenings, and I would like to draw in more air without using noisy fans. Do you have any hints for getting more of this air into the house at night?

A: The only natural method to get extra airflow into your house is to rely on the varying densities of air. Warm air is less dense. In a two-story house, open your second floor window fully.

Open your first floor window slightly less. The warm air moving out the upper windows draws cool air in the first floor. Because the lower window is not opened as far, the air velocity is higher, creating a cooling breeze.

James Dulley has written a 224-page book, "Affordable Efficient Houses," which includes 235 floor plan layouts and exterior diagrams and 195 house manufacturers. Included are timber-framed, geodesic dome, modular, circular, log, steel-framed, panelized, post and beam and cedar houses. You can order this book for $14.95 (includes delivery) with check payable to James Dulley. Mail to James Dulley, Houses, P.O. Box 54987, Cincinnati, OH 45254 or visit http://www.dulley.com/houses.htm.

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