Sail Away to a Shady Summer

Eco-friendly climate control for the warm weather months

It’s summertime, and the living is steamy.

Cranking the air conditioning to “arctic” is one way to cool off, but that can be hard on the planet — and the pocketbook.

Luckily, maintaining a comfortable climate indoors and out is often just a matter of creating shade in your home and garden. Here are a number of ways to make summer living easy, breezy and cool.

Turn the Temps Inside Out

First, start from the outside and work in. Stopping the sun’s heat before it penetrates your home is seven times more effective than using interior blinds or curtains.
Trees are a great natural sunblock. Unfortunately, perfectly positioned maples are hard to come by! 
Consider a fast-climbing Paulownia, which can reach heights of 30' in only three years. 

Don’t have a green thumb? Exterior shade solutions — such Coolaroo Window Shades — provide faster and more feasible options. The all-weather knit fabric blocks up to 90 percent of the sun's UV rays, allows light and air to pass through, and resists mold, mildew and rot.
Roman Sun ShadeOn a porch or veranda, these Roman Sun Shades offer privacy and protection while still giving you an unobstructed view. Use them to create an outdoor room for entertaining or simply lounging with your family.
In the patio and garden, consider Coolaroo Sail Shades. Festive and colorful, they add 
architectural interest while working to keep temperatures lower inside and out. Sails 
also filter the light to provide protection for plantings, while allowing rain and cool 
breezes to penetrate. Resistant to fading and mildew, the special polymer fabric comes with a 10-year warranty.

No doubt, square sails are the simplest to install. But you should also consider triangles, which require only three attachment points, offer less wind resistance (crucial to keep things from sailing away!), and can be layered and overlapped in varying heights and colors.

Regardless of your sail choice, proper installation is the key to successful shading. Be 
sure the structures that will support the sail shade (e.g., roof fascia, fence post or 
pergola) are sound. Sails can be attached to large trees, but this is not recommended 
for permanent installation. Minimum height should be about 8 feet, so don’t forget to 
check for overhead wires! 

Coolaroo Sail ShadeBefore beginning, be sure to check local regulations and homeowners’ association 
covenants on installing exterior structures. While picking the right size and configuration 
isn’t rocket science, it does require a little basic astronomy to understand the path of the 
sun across your property, in order to determine the best place for installation. Google’s 
SketchUp is free, and can be used to create a 3-D model that provides detail for a 
comprehensive shadow study. Christopher Gronbeck of Seattle’s Sustainable by Design 
offers a number of helpful tools, and will also do a custom consultation for your 
particular site.

If there’s no way to install outdoor solar protection, all is not lost. UV-blocking interior shades and insulated curtains can also offer significant cooling opportunities, conserving energy and reducing up to 50 percent of light. As another bonus, insulated window treatments protect fabric upholstery and wood floors from the sun’s fading rays.

Beyond Shade: More Tips for Staying Cool

In the height of summer, though, even the shadiest of spots can be uncomfortably 
warm. Once you’ve taken advantage of passive solar protection, other techniques can 
help beat the heat.
Magnetic Bug ScreenOne tropical favorite is the chilled, scented cloth that’s offered to 
guests for freshening. Dampen a number of small washcloths in essential oil–scented 
water (try lemongrass or jasmine). Stored in a sealed bag in your refrigerator, they’re a 
pleasant and instant antidote to sticky days. 

In an already shaded spot or in the evenings, a magnetic bug screen can let in a cool breeze while keeping mosquitoes at bay.

No breeze? Ceiling fans, evaporative coolers and portable air conditioners lower the temperature without sending your utility bills sky-high.

Solar LanternsFinally, while blocking the heat of the sun is desirable, don’t forget to take advantage of 
it as well. On laundry day, an umbrella clothes dryer uses the very heat we’re trying to avoid, while infusing clothes with the crisp scent of summer. Sun-powered battery chargers keep electronics humming happily, while solar lanterns add romantic atmosphere to sultry evenings.

So make the best of it, and enjoy the summer

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Pharoah1's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 07/01/2011

In an effort to be more energy conscious we have installed coolaroo shades, outdoor roman shades, insulated curtains, ceiling fans, an attic fan and are much more comfortable in a more natural environment. Most of these improvements were tips from Gaiam and we used their products and have been most pleased with the results. I love the Gaiam approach to our environment and have sent Gaiam info to all my friends!

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