How to shade windows for summer

Awnings shading shuttered windows on a sunny day

Summer vs winter sun diagramThe best way to shade your windows depends on which way they face, because the height and angle of the sun changes as it moves through the sky and as the seasons change.

South-facing windows

South-facing windows receive almost no direct sunlight, so they don't require shading in summer. However, cooling breezes in summer usually come from the south so these windows are useful for cross ventilation. South-facing windows will lose heat from the house in winter unless well protected with either double glazing or heavy curtains or pelmets.

North-facing windows

North facing windows diagram

Fixed horizontal shading devices, such as eaves and pergolas, are ideal for shading north-facing windows. If they are well designed, they can stop the high summer sun from hitting the glass, while still allowing the low-level winter sun to shine in and heat your home in winter. Some pergolas have louvres that can be adjusted to provide complete shading in summer, while still allowing the sun access in winter.

Adjustable external shading, such as blinds, awnings, roller-shutters and conventional shutters, are also suitable for shading north-facing windows in summer. The thicker and more opaque the material, the better the shading effect will be. The external shading should be adjustable to allow the sun in during the winter months and on cooler summer days.

East- and west-facing windows

East or west facing windows diagram

During summer, east-facing windows can be a major source of heat gain in the morning, while west-facing windows can be a major source of heat gain in the afternoon.

Adjustable external shading devices such as blinds, awnings, louvres or shutters, or angled metal slats provide the flexibility to block the low-angled morning and afternoon sun. Adjustable shading devices allow greater flexibility to make adjustments on a day-to-day or even hour-by-hour basis, in response to changing weather conditions and comfort levels.

Eaves, pergolas and even verandahs provide some benefit, but are not very effective at shading east and west windows as they do not block out the lower-angled early morning and late afternoon sun in summer. If you have a verandah it may be possible to install blinds on the perimeter to shade the windows, walls and verandah itself, making the whole area more comfortable in summer.

Windows that face north-east and north-west are also best shaded by adjustable vertical shading devices such as awnings or blinds.

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