Our energy bills don’t always love the Los Angeles summer heat, even if we do. The best way to keep those bills down is to block heat from windows before it comes inside to begin with. However, we don’t always want to add new window coverings inside our homes. Or sometimes we already have, and it’s just not enough for a window in direct sunlight!
In that case, what do you do? Well, that’s what we’re here to explain!
There are thankfully multiple ways to block heat from getting inside without needing new interior window coverings.
block heat from windows with exterior shades
Exterior solar shades are a fantastic option for blocking heat. Their opacity varies from 1% to 15% openness, so you can find your perfect balance between an external view and heat-blocking. The openness factor is basically how much UV rays can get through – 1% blocks 99% of UV rays, and is the most opaque. (These are sometimes called sun shades, by the way!)
Just like in the photo, exterior window shades can cover windows themselves, or create shade where a window doesn’t exist. In this case, the shades will block lower sun from hitting the large glass doors.
Exterior shades can be solar powered! We love this option when wiring would either be unattractive, or expensive to add for high windows. Any motorized option obviously makes life easier. They don’t have to be motorized, though, to provide great benefits. Solar shades reflect plenty of sunlight, which means heat stays out of your home and outdoors where it belongs. If we do say so ourselves, they also look clean, modern, and fantastic!
If you have a window that gets beat by sun constantly throughout the day, you can layer these with interior options. Add double-cell cellular shades (often called honeycomb blinds) inside. They are the Kings of Insultation when it comes to window coverings. If that’s still not enough, add draperies over those for a beautiful interior. And a tough one too. It would be hard for any heat to get past three layers of reflective and insulating materials!
But, we promised we’d stick to the outdoors… (we couldn’t resist at least telling you all the options!). So, next up in blocking heat before it hits the windows!
block heat from windows with plants
Nature, of course, is a great option. It’s good for us in many ways aside from keeping sun off the side of the house. Where possible, plant trees, shrubs, or even vibes on trellises. Choose trees that are low-maintenance by choosing native trees. They’ll be designed to live in LA’s climate with little human effort. Plus, native plants are the most beneficial for our local ecosystem! (The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer beetle is a big problem here, and certain trees should be avoided to prevent giving them a place to breed.)
TreePeople is a great resource for choosing the right tree. They’re a 501(c)3 non-profit here in Southern California. Their mission is to help our community’s safe, fun, and healthy. They plant trees, remove invasive species, reforest burns, work with legislation, and much more.
But back to how trees help. Choosing trees that provide shade is pretty simple. You want a tree that grows tall enough to block the sun from hitting your window. You also want one thick enough to prevent sun from seeping through. Palms sadly aren’t going to cut it for shade. Evergreen trees are often a great choice, and many are also very wind- and drought-resistant.
This doesn’t mean you need to plant a tree right in front of a window. No one wants to block their entire view! Instead, pay attention to the time of day the sun is hitting your window. Check out what part of your yard could use a tree to block it at its worst. See how high the sun is positioned, and where shadows fall from other things outdoors. You can get a good idea of what’s needed that way, simply by peeking out the window. You could plant a few side-by-side to create a wind and sun barrier for the hottest times of day. The further out from your home, the taller the tree. Professional landscapers can easily aid you with this goal.
block heat from windows with an awning
If trees or exterior shades aren’t your thing, or you want more than the windows shaded, retractable awnings are another great choice. You can block heat from hitting your windows, while also blocking it from your patio, deck and more! The photo above is our client Larry’s home. You can see his external solar shades providing shade for his outdoor seating area. It also stops the sun from hitting his large glass patio doors. The awning shades Larry while he’s grilling, and shades multiple windows too.
The shade underneath awnings can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. Sun isn’t touching those windows. When the shade is that much cooler, imagine how much that helps indoors behind those windows!
Like exterior shades, retractable awnings can also be motorized. You can even add a rain sensor that will retract it automatically if drizzle starts. Wind sensors retract it if the wind picks up to prevent damage. We carry retractable awnings for our Greater San Fernando Valley clients in sizes from 8′ wide all the way up to 20′. They can also extend out to 13′ 1″. That’s a LOT of shaded area!
the takeaway to blocking heat
Hopefully this has given you ideas for dealing with SoCal’s lovely but hot sunshine! We offer many options to help insulate windows inside the home, but when it comes to heat, stop it before it starts! If it never has a chance to enter the home, you’re going to enjoy much cooler rooms. Your air conditioner and wallet will thank you.
Interesting in exterior shades or a retractable awning for your Los Angeles home?
Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!