Category Archives: Energy Savings

Guide to Awning Colors


Once you have made the decision to add an awning or canopy to your home, the first two questions are “What Color?” and “What Style?”. In this post, we will offer an exhaustive guide to the best colors for awnings.

Choosing the Perfect Shade

Whether the fabric has a pattern or is a solid color, all awnings will be primarily one color, and as the owner, you need to decide whether you want that to be a light or dark color. The key difference is often determined by the reason for the addition to the home. If the central goal is to lower the carbon footprint or to maximize the energy benefits, then you will 100% want to go with a lighter color option. Because the light and heat are reflected at a higher rate, they provide significantly more cooling than the darker alternatives. Some studies have shown that the lighter are more than double the cooling effect over a black material.

One question we hear frequently on this topic is from people who want to maximize their cooling bill, but really don’t want to go with an all white awning. We completely understand this as the solid white is both a challenge to keep looking fresh, and it can clash with many exteriors. Our next section will dive deep into the science, but if you’d prefer to stay high level then you will receive much of the benefits by choosing a pastel.

H2- Science of Light Reflection, Absorption, and Transmission
This portion of the post is designed for those who want to understand the why behind the what. If you are not interested in the physics, then you can simply skip to the next section without missing of our recommendations.

Solar light is composed of all hues far beyond the spectrum that can be seen by the naked eye. At the low end, there is infrared. Above infared, we get into the visible range which includes the ROYGBIV colors, and then we move to the ultraviolet range which is also invisible to humans. All light energy is composed of the same atoms, and the hue is determined by the rate at which it vibrates.

When solar light encounters any substance, one of three things will occur. The first is when it simply passes through the material without changing form. This is called “Transmission”. You can picture this by shining a flashlight through a piece of plastic wrap. The light will appear exactly the same on the other side as the clear wrap will transmit most of the energy. Note that even the nearly transparent material does still block some of the energy, and this can be observed by repeated folding onto itself to make many layers. After 32 layers, there will obvious difference as a great portion of the energy will now be blocked.

The second property a material can exhibit is to absorb the energy. This occurs because all molecules vibrate at a certain frequency. When the energy hits something that is a complimentary frequency, then the light can pass through the material. The light passing through the material creates radiant heat. A completely black material is a compliment of white meaning that it will absorb all light and create the most radiant heat.

The third property a material can exhibit is to reflect the light energy. This occurs when the molecules of an object are vibrating at a frequency. When the solar light encounters molecules in the object at the same hertz they are repelled which reflects the light and most of the energy. This reflected light how humans observe the color.

How do we apply this? If you are going to choose the darker shades then you may want to go with an open style awning with the sides open so the wind and air will flow better to cool the awning. Additionally, you may want a darker color awning slightly higher than a light or pastel awning so the radiant heat has a chance to dissipate before reaching the patio. Another item to consider is installing a solar shade on the windows underneath a dark color awning as a way to still reflect the heat and keep it out of the house.

Thanks for sticking with us after that long scientific explanation. A lot of our visitors are DIY people who really care about the behind the scenes, and I had received so many questions around why the more pale colors were more cost efficient for cooling.

Match the House or Splash of Color?

There are two schools of thought when adding an awning and that is whether to do with a complimentary color or something that is on the opposite side of the color wheel. The latter will lead the eye to that making it a natural visual focal point. If your goal is to create the nice entertaining outside area then we really like the “Splash of Color”. Even if you are going for a less visible feel, we still recommend choosing a color different than your exact home color. We’ve spoken with many buyers who tried to match their house exactly with a custom color only to be disappointed after a few years when the materials wear differently. One of our top tips is to always use a color that is different than your house shade. We’ve built the table with our recommendations of home color with awnings colors that will match. If you’re unsure, many manufacturers will send you free samples so that you can hold the fabric and see how it pairs with your exact house.

Red – This is a great choice for homes that are painted white or pastel yellow siding. All hues of red can be used from the bright ruby red to the deep crimson will create a nice contrast against the siding. Red should always be avoided for the blue stucco homes that are popular in the Southwester states and any home that has green external amenities.

Yellow – This is a lesser selected color that we’ve seen primarily used for patios. It creates an open sunny feel and is perfect around a pool area. This creates a nice contrast for homes with brick exteriors or the dark gray stucco.

Green – Forest Green is one of the more popular choices in the United States. These work especially well with yellow siding homes. They can also work well with the brown and beige stucco homes. We recommend avoiding brick homes and or the light blue stucco homes.

Blue – This is a safe choice that works on the majority of homes. It looks best in a white home, but there are not exteriors that clash horribly.

Brown – This is a great choice for gray or beige homes. The brown can create a nice contrast to the other neutral colors without committing too far to a single color scheme. These can also create a sense of high-end elegance.

White – Overall, we are not fans of white awnings for the home. They can work with brick homes or dark gray stucco homes, and we recommend always avoiding them if you have a white or yellow home.

Black – This color will work with absolutely everything. While it provides the least benefit to cooling, it can instantly frame an area and make the area stand out with a few matching furniture pieces.

Pattern or Solid Color?

There are many patterns available, and we are going to recommend that as a homeowner you ignore most of them. To maximize the resale value of your home you should only consider awnings that are either one solid color or a simple stripe pattern. While we are not fans of the solid white awning, having a red/white stripe pattern is a great way of getting the style elements of the color while some of the energy benefits of white.

Our primary preference if you are getting a stripe pattern is for it to be composed of alternating white and a single color. We have seen some beautiful fabrics that combine multiple colors; however, only consider this if you are using it with a white home.

Another consideration with patterns is the width of the strip. We recommend narrow stripes if you are getting awnings for a window or other small area. This ensures that there will be enough stripes for the pattern to be completely visible and understandable at a distance. If you are covering a larger area such as a porch or patio, we suggest a wide stripe. When you are covering big spaces, the narrow patterns feel busy.

We have created a Pinterest page with some of our favorite awnings if you are looking for inspiration for your next project.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Complete Guide to Awning Lighting

Green Commercial Box Awning

What is Awning Lighting?

We are seeing a growing trend in which people are adding lights to their awnings. This is both true for residential patio covers as well as those attached to an RV or camper. Over the past few years, the quality of outdoor lighting has greatly improved. With the growth in consumer demand, we have seen more vendors enter the space and drive down the prices. It’s now possible to purchase a quality system for less than a third of what it cost n 2015.

There are four types of patio or awning lighting. At a high level, there are two categories. The first category is for aesthetic light with a primary purpose of setting a romantic mood. These are used for homes when they want to create soft light or in commercial venues when they want to set the right mood such as wedding venues or restaurants on Valentine’s day.

The second category of lighting is designed first and foremost for functionality. These use LED lights that are incredibly energy efficient, and they are also designed to be quite easily affixed to the area that you wish to illuminate.

We will dive into the benefits and drawbacks of each option. In the end, there isn’t a one size fits all solution as it greatly depends on your main objective.

Aesthetic Outdoor Patio Lighting

Whenever you read about awning lights with no further clarification, this is what most people are thinking about. Both types (large bulb and small bulb) are attached to a long electrical wire. These are usually called “String Lights” because each bulb is connected to the wire at specific intervals.

The large bulb lights feature an internal LED that is surrounded by a globe of glass which is used to diffuse and soften the light. These globes can range from being as small as a ping pong ball to as large as a softball. We have even seen some artistic string lights that had the LED inside a mason jar. While they were incredibly pretty, we were not fans of these mason jar lights as the weight created issues for the wire supporting them. If one of the supports broke, it could cause a chain reaction that led to all the mason jars crashing to the ground. We absolutely recommend sticking with manufactured patio lighting that has reinforced glass.

Each large bulb will produce about 20 lumens which are roughly the same as a soft light 40-watt bulb in your home. The outdoor lights often feature a painted exterior that will cause it to glow rather than beam. This type of outdoor lighting is best used to frame a perimeter or an awning, patio, or pergola. There are some designs that run the wires in parallel across the center; however, the lights need to have some support in the middle if they are strung across an open area.

The “Small Bulb Outdoor Lightning” is very similar to Christmas tree lighting. They feature very small LED bulb that is usually painted white and about the same diameter as a pencil. There is an interval of 4″ to 6″ between each bulb, and each single bulb only produces around 2 lumens. If you’re unfamiliar with the lumen as a measurement term, it’s the amount of light that something generates, and for reference one birthday candle is roughly 1 lumen. Here are our three favorite small bulb patio lights.

Functional Centric Outdoor Lighting

This category of lighting is designed to generate the most amount of lumens for the amount of energy consumed. Many of these are solar powered or designed to run from a battery. These are also designed to be self-contained so that it is easy to add to the overall system.

Our first type of this genre are the LED strip lights. These usually have small flat outward facing LEDS that are attached to a long strip of wire. On the back of the wire, there is an adhesive material that allows it to easily stick to the underside of an awning. Additionally, they can also attach to a solid frame as it doesn’t require grommets. If you are setting up a permanent lighting system for a fixed area, we really recommend these.

One of the main perks of the LED strip lights is that they are often programmable through a remote or on a mobile phone app. They can be set to certain colors if you are simply trying to set the mood for a favorite ball team. They can be set to white for maximum lumens, and they can also be programmed to strobe to create an outdoor disco area. These are also incredibly popular for outdoor RV lighting. We have a video below that illustrates how these can be used in creative areas such as a pillar and how they can be controlled via an iphone app:

The final type is ground stick lights. These are individual batons that are pressed into the ground. They either have a battery in the lower section that powers the bulb or a small solar panel on the top. They also feature a darkness detector that causes them to turn on after the sunsets. On the small end, there are 1-lumen lights that are used to illuminate the border of a path. On the other end of this, there is the directional 120-lumen monster. This has a large LED bulb in the center with a concentric concave reflective cone. The large models are usually on motion detectors that are pointed at driveways or home entry points. These are absolutely amazing for portable lighting options as they can be placed around a popup tent. Additionally, if you are tailgating, these can be affixed to the poles instead of pressed into the ground.

Frame for Awning Light

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Cattle Shading Guide – Everything You Need to Know About Livestock Shade

What is livestock shading?

There have been some recent studies done by the Australian government which measured the impact for both dairy cows and beef cattle. They have discovered that excessive heat can lead to significant reduction in milk production as well as considerably lower meat yield. This is a ratio of the pounds of meat from the cow per pound of grain consumed. This is simple biology as the calories obtained from the food are used by the cow to maintain body temperature.

Livestock shading is a technique that really became popular from this study. There have been several companies that now manufacture and sell these awnings for livestock. This can benefit other animals too; however, nearly all the research has been focused on the financial impact for cows.

What are the benefits of livestock sun protection?

The main reason a farmer wants to protect his herd from the sun is to maintain a consistent body temperature for the cattle. While 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the average temperature for humans, the average for cows run a tad higher ranging between 101.5 and 102.7 depending on the breed. Additionally, the majority of the heat generated by cattle comes through eating and digesting. Because of this the best place to provide overhead protection from the sun is around the hay bails or feed stalls. If the cows are free range and roam around an open field, then you can either use stationary awnings at the salt blocks or water stations or portable awnings distributed around the field. We will cover the portable livestock shade options below as these are one of the most effective and best value tools to help you regulate your cow’s temperature.

We have created a list of the impact and corresponding benefits that shade can provide to your herd.

  • Milk Production: Extreme heat can reduce production by 1.5 liters per cow. (Source)
  • Milk Protein Production: Milk protein per liter drop by 0.15% (Source)
  • Lean Beef Mass: This can drop 10% for adult cows (Source)
  • Conceptation Rate: For year round calfers, the conception rate can decrease by 10% to 12% (Source)
  • Gestation Length: The usual cycle range from 279 to 284 with a mean of 283. Heat stress can add 1-3 days to this average. (Source)
  • Calf Size: Initial research has suggested a decrease in birth weight; however, we have not found a peer reviewed scientific study. (Source)

What is the ROI Impact?

Most of the large farmers that we have spoken with already use a software to measure their ROI. For these farmers, we encourage them to plug in the data to their existing systems. There are are many government funded research projects that provide independent validation to the changes. From there, it’s merely a matter of comparing that with the cost of adding the awnings to your farm.

For small farmers who may not have the software tools, we recommend creating a DIY solution first. This can either be a portable residential style awning that is attached to the side of a barn to see if they cows go to the shaded area. Additionally, you can compare this with the Year over Year milk production for days of similar temperature. For farmers who do “Skip Day” milking the impact seems to be even more significant to overall milk production. If you are going with the DIY residential option, we highly recommend a permanent, non-retractable awning that can be kept up most of the year. In the summers, the awning will protect the cattle from the heat whereas in the winter it will shield them from the impacts of the snow or rain by providing a dry place for them to stand as we know a lot of the small farms don’t have dedicated barn space. Our top recommendation is the Super Amazing Cow Shade, and we have written a full review article.

Yellow Umbrella Outdoor Tables

Guide to Managing Cow Temperature

  • Increased Respiration Rate
  • Wandering for Shade
  • Eating Less
  • Swarming Water Sources
  • Splashing Water from Trough on Body
  • Multiple Cows Clumping for Shade
  • Open Mouth Heavy Breathing
  • Drooling from Mouth
  • Fall Over
  • Convulsions
  • Death

The list above is an overview of what happens to cattle as their body temperature increases. The purpose of this is to allow farmers to quickly asses how their herd is acting so that they can determine what actions are necessary. The reason shading is so crucial is because it provides a self-service cooling option for the cattle. The awning is totally reusable which will greatly cut the amount of water consumed by the herd.

Best Cool Weather Strategies

While most of this article is about keeping cows cool in the summer months, there are also benefits from keeping the cattle warmer during the winter. Cows lose heat through three main methods, and these are:

  • Convection – This is when a cow touches something cooler such as the ground or shaded wall.
  • Conduction – This is when cows heat up the air around them. This is the primary benefit from cattle awnings.
  • Radiation – This is the heat from getting solar radiation. This is irrespective of temperature, and being in shade can lower this by more than 50%.

Best Warm Weather Strategies

The one item we want to call out when evaluating any terms of movable covers is that they can sometimes be caught by the wind so it is extremely important to have them attached well to the ground. If you are on a parking lot or other paved area, we recommend tent weights. For the times you are on a beach, you can use sandbags that are tied to the legs, and if you are camping in a grassy or wooded area, additional tent stakes are the preferred option as they can secure your structure to the ground without adding significant weight to your pack. Regardless of what environment that you are using the tent on, it is better to err on the side of attaching better than not enough.

Heat Exchange in Cows

Standalone awnings are ideal for RVs because they can easily be pulled from the vehicle and placed adjacent to it. This will create extra usable living space, and it will also create a welcoming social spot. For people who frequent RV parks, a portable awning is a must have.

DIY Cattle Awnings

While this applies to a small number of visitors, the question I have received most is about portable shading options for pets or livestock so I have created an entire section on this. Once we complete additional research, I will break this out into its own page so we would love to hear if you have any specific experience with a product either good bad. Finally, we appreciate any time you can send us an image as it really helps our information come to life.

Professional Awnings for Cows

While this applies to a small number of visitors, the question I have received most is about portable shading options for pets or livestock so I have created an entire section on this. Once we complete additional research, I will break this out into its own page so we would love to hear if you have any specific experience with a product either good bad. Finally, we appreciate any time you can send us an image as it really helps our information come to life.

Best Sizes for Cow Shade Areas

While this applies to a small number of visitors, the question I have received most is about portable shading options for pets or livestock so I have created an entire section on this. Once we complete additional research, I will break this out into its own page so we would love to hear if you have any specific experience with a product either good bad. Finally, we appreciate any time you can send us an image as it really helps our information come to life.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Patio Awning Ideas

Awning used as a functional statue at local mall.

When you decide to get an awning, there are many choices to be made. We have created a checklist of the common options so to help you week out all the ideas for your patio awning.

Awning Color

One of the first decisions is what color is the awning going to be. You may need to check with your homeowner association or other guidelines. Some neighborhoods may limit the palette to ensure it doesn’t clash or create a distraction from the house. Another popular restriction can be limiting any external amenity to a predefined color palette to ensure the neighborhood has a cohesive feel. Most of the time this will be in the bylaws. You cannot assume that because someone in your area already has a similar structure that it is allowed because their awning may have been grandfathered in if it was erected before certain rules went into effect.

Fixed or Retractable

When you are evaluating the choices to cover your patio, the two most selected are either a fixed awning that provides shade every day or the manual retractable that can be raised or lowered depending on the weather. The latter is greatly preferred because it has a longer lifespan; however, it has a higher initial price point. Some people also prefer the design and aesthetics of the fixed awning for patios. We have included a link to this Pinterest board which has many items for inspiration.

Enclosed or Not

While the editors of are not familiar with enclosed awnings, there is a rapidly growing trend of enclosing the space with a mesh to create an insect free sun room. This can be an incredibly cost efficient option running a few hundred dollars over the regular model and create an additional outdoor living space. This is reminiscent of the outdoor screen porches of houses in the south from the 1950s.

We are actually tremendous fans of open-air designs with louver roof awnings. They are both very attractive and functional. At first glance, the open frame looks like it would provide any significant shade; however, in practice, it is often cooler than its enclosed counterpart by allowing the wind to cool the area underneath. We have written a full guide on louver roof awnings.

Decorative Only

Another idea around patio awnings is to get one that has a very small coverage area and use it as an accent color of the exterior of the house. The accent color can match the trim of the house or perhaps an umbrella or furniture. This won’t provide shade or the energy savings of the traditional option; however, it will make the house appear a tad fancier.

Open Slat Awning

Open Slat Awning

Open Slat Awning

An open roof is one that that has the standard wood or aluminum frame around the side. However, the middles section is not covered in fabric. Instead, the middle is joists that are aligned at a specific angle to block the sun at specific intervals of the day. Open slat awnings can be wonderful for providing energy savings by shading portions of the house. They can also have a slim profile because the slats allow the water to pass through without the height requirement of the more common type.


Frosted Glass Awning

This is one of the more expensive options and should only be installed by a trained professional. This style has a horizontal aluminum or steel frame that extends from the house over the porch or patio. Attached to the metal frame are panels of frosted glass. These create a shaded area by blocking most of the direct rays of the sun. These are often paired with modern home designs with a concrete slab style patio.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Energy Benefits Of Adding An Awning To Your Home

Guide to Energy Saving from Awnings and Sun Shades

According to reports published by the U.S. Department of Energy, placing window awnings to the south side of your property can lead to up to 65% reduction in solar heat and if placed on the west side, the reduction is an estimated 77%. Now this is a significant save on energy and if you are yet to be among those who enjoy the many energy benefits of making your home more energy efficient, this knowledge should get you thinking about being one of the numerous Americans who enjoys up to 60% savings on energy costs through the installation in their various homes and commercial properties.

Gone are those days when installing or dismantling of your awning is a huge task because of this time, there are various styles of retractable awnings that make setting up or taking down a lot easier than you imagine. There are also local and reliable companies that offer installations at affordable rates. Having known all these, it is time to talk about the energy benefits of having one installed on your property, residential or commercial. Both in Europe and in the U.S., several property owners are cutting costs on energy through the installation. Some of these benefits are as follows:

  • Protection Against Water Damages: If you live in an area that is prone to incessant rainfall, then there is the possibility that the pounding of the rain on your door will lead to water finding its way into your home. If you have rug carpet in your home, then it will require vacuum or hot air drying to get the carpet dry again. This uses up a lot of energy that could have been saved if an awning was installed at the entrance or by the window side of the property.
  • Less Air Conditioning: Studies have shown that penetration of solar radiation through glass windows and doors lead to an increased demand for cooling the interiors of a property through air conditioners. With the installation of an awning, you are projecting yourself to enjoy most of the energy benefits of adding an awning to your home. This includes having to use your air condition less often since the cover prevents direct penetration of solar radiation into your home or business place. When your air conditioner does not need to work often in order for you to maintain a cool environment, then you will be saving more on energy costs.
  • Less Heating: If yours is a retractable awning, then dismantling it during the winter will afford you the opportunity of saving cost on heating up your home. This is because the solar radiation will no longer be blocked and will penetrate the glasses directly to heat up your home. When this happens, you use the heater less and as such, increasing your energy savings considerably.
  • Reduction Of The Impact Of Global Warming: This is overall when it comes to the numerous energy benefits. When you consume less energy when it comes to cooling your home during summer and spring or you use less energy in heating up your home or commercial establishment during winter, you will be among those who are reducing the impact of global warming.
  • Reduction In Peak Electricity Demand: From several studies carried out in certain areas of the U.S., it was determined that homes that have one installed exhibited a significant reduction in peak electricity demand. This is mainly because with the awnings working both ways, there was less heat in summer/spring season and less cold during the winter season. With this less demand during times of peak usage, not only do the utility companies save on its energy supply capacity, the homeowners also save on cash that could have gone into paying for additional energy costs towards heating or cooling the home, as the case may be.

These are just a few of the many energy benefits, but there are additional cost savings. One example is that when you have an awning installed on your property, it shields your interior d├ęcor and furnishings from exposure to harsh elements and as such, damages are kept to the barest minimum. Another benefit is that to a large extent, it increases the value of your property as it translates into undeniable curb appeal. When you decide to sell your property, a first-time potential client will be immediately drawn to the beauty of the awning and as such, increase your chances of selling your property at the right price, or even higher.

The last but not the least among the additional benefits of installing awnings is that it creates more living space within your property. If you have a patio or it happens that your property is decked, you can convert it to additional living space by having an awning installed. With such installation, you can engage in a lot of outdoor activities without being afraid of most of the harsh outdoor elements.

Get Expert Guidance on Saving Energy

If you wish to enjoy these energy benefits, it is important that you seek expert help or guidance in order to settle for the right awning for your property, whether it is residential or commercial. There are varied styles and features that are created to suit different buildings or property. The recommendation you receive is mainly determined by your needs and budget. Apart from these, the architectural design of your home is also considered during the process of helping you choose the right awning for your home.

Marcion Albert

Date Published: