Reduce Energy Costs: How to Create an Exterior Sun Shade

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Sun shade
Mounting brackets and hardware
Caulk and caulking gun

With rising energy costs, it makes sense to look for ways to reduce energy use at home. Running the heater and the air conditioner less will result in lower energy bills and a reduced share of personal energy use. Without installing alternative energy generators such as solar panels or wind turbines, there are a number of steps you can take to use less energy. One such idea is installing an exterior sun shade. If you have a large south or west facing window, installing a retractable sun shade to block sunlight from entering during the hot part of the day will reduce energy costs. In short, you won’t have to run your air conditioner as long to keep the house cool.

Step 1: Determine Size of Window to Shade

The first step is to measure the dimensions of the window you wish to shade. Sun shades come in numerous sizes to fit all types of windows. With the tape measure, determine the height and width of the window.

Step 2: Purchase Exterior Sun Shade

When buying the sun shade, make sure it slightly bigger than the window to be shaded. When mounted, it should reach beyond the edge of the window at least an inch on all sides. If it is too small, it will let sunlight and heat in, negating some of its energy saving effects.

Step 3: Mounting Brackets

Depending on the exterior frame of the window, you will have to find a place to mount the exterior sun shade. The house’s exterior material will also influence what type of bracket mount you use. Brick or stucco may require a different mount than wood or vinyl siding. Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations or talk to a service technician wherever you purchase the shade. In terms of actual mounting, you may have to brace the mounts from the inside of the window, requiring a cut through the siding material of the home. Most types of windows, however, let you mount such a bracket to the outside of the home.

Step 4: Mark the Area, Mount and Seal

Assuming you can mount the bracket to the outside frame of the window, first mark exactly where they will go. This will make the installation easier. Follow the instructions, but in general, you should be able to use your power drill to insert the mounting screws and fasten the bracket to the window frame. To avoid water leaking in behind the bracket, seal with a small bead of caulk.

Step 5: Hang the Sun Shade

After the brackets have been mounted, install the sun shade. Depending on the type, it may pull down with a small cord or by pulling on the end. Much like an indoor shade, it will lock into place and only retract when pulled down slightly and let up. You may wish to install a small hook in order to prevent the shade from blowing about in the wind. This should only apply if the shade is very lightweight.

Hanging an exterior sun shade is a great way to cut down on summer energy costs. By pulling down a shade on a west or south facing window, sunlight and heat are prevented from entering, thereby reducing your air conditioner runtime. In this way you help to keep your home cool and reduce your monthly energy bill.