Along with installing a cool roof, reducing heat gain through your windows is one of the biggest things you can do to make summer easier on your AC unit. Here are four ways to reduce window heat gain: window coatings, shade plants, awnings, and shutters.
1. Use UV-blocking window coatings
Window coatings come in many varieties now, not just the tinted ones that reduce window transparency. And if you don't want your windows tinted because you're worried it'll make you look inhospitable (or for some other reason, such as because it's against your HOA rules), you can obtain window films that allow great visibility but still reduce heat gain. They do this by allowing the visible spectrum of light to pass through while blocking other rays such as UV rays. This is not only great for reducing heat gain but also for preventing fading of upholstery by these harmful rays.
2. Use shade trees, bushes, or vines
Plants can be a great way to help keep your house cool. It's unlikely you'll want to plant enough trees to keep your windows in the shade at all times, especially if you have a lot of sunny windows, but you can place a tree strategically in a position that will allow it to shade the window during the hottest part of the day or the part of the day when the sun hits the window dead-on. And for other gentle shade options, you can grow a vine up a trellis around the window and allow it to grow tendrils that hang down and partially shade the window from the sun.
3. Add awnings
Awnings are another great way to keep your window partially in the shade. Many awnings only shade the top section of the window, but that can still make a significant difference, especially if you pair this option with another (such as a window coating). And awnings come in several sizes, so you can choose how much of the window you want to shade. Companies like Lehman Awning Company can help you find the right one for your home.
4. Close the shutters
Many houses come with purely decorative shutters. If yours don't have hinges or aren't the right size for the window, you may need to replace them with shutters that are actually functional before you use this option. However, if you do have operational shutters, this can be another great way to shade the window. Heavy shutters can provide quite an effective block against the sun.