A new study, "Awnings in Residential Buildings: The Impact on Energy Use and Peak Demand", conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota, finds that awnings over windows in residences can save energy costs throughout the year.
The study, funded by the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA), was conducted to determine whether awnings are viable means to reduce energy use and reduce air conditioner usage in the home. The study investigated the energy savings for single-family homes in terms of heat gain, energy costs in heating and cooling and the reduction of energy use during peak periods.
The results illustrate that in predominantly cold climates, such as Minneapolis, and mixed climates, such as St Louis, the highest energy savings are achieved when awnings are used in the summer and retracted or removed in the winter. Hot climates benefit from awnings year round, but because they are typically used year round, there is less overall energy savings when compared to the cold and mixed climates, as awning use during the winter reduces sunlight-related heat gain.
The study also indicates that the range of energy saved varies widely based on the number of windows, type of glass in the windows and window orientation. It also shows that awnings could have significant impact on utilities, especially during times of peak energy usage.
If energy companies encourage consumers to install awnings and a large number of consumers do so, there is less demand for energy at the times of peak usage. This in turn reduces the need for additional mechanical equipment to cool the home.
The Professional Awning Manufacturers Association, a division of IFAI, is made up of awning fabricators and suppliers to the awning industry. PAMA maintains two Websites: www.awninginfo.com, which focuses on association members and commercial awning use, and www.awningstoday.com, which educates consumers about awnings and awning benefits.