Longer summers, shorter winters, less rain and snowfall are the climate change predictions for the coming decades in the southwest from climate scientists. For many of us, we have begun to wonder if we are not already seeing this as we recall 4 months of perfect skiing in the mountains as children, or how the air seemed chillier in late September in the evenings after school, or how many very hot days there are in summer, when it didn’t bother us as teenagers.
Regardless of our memories, we live in the desert in New Mexico and the sun is harsh and blazing hot. Running an air conditioner or swamp cooler certainly helps indoors, but there are ways to cool down your home from the exterior that will reduce utility bills in the warm months of the year. Imagine turning on the swamp cooler an hour or 2 later in the day and letting it run for 6 hours instead of 8. Imagine a hot sunny day when all you needed were ceiling fans to stir the air.
Patio and deck screening, outdoor or indoor window screening that deflects heat and shields from burning UV rays keeps the areas behind them cooler. Put your hand on a sunny wall and then a shady wall. The shady wall is cooler to the touch, as is the space behind it and the room it encloses. The same goes for windows which allow direct sunlight to penetrate a room. Screening is available in a variety of color tones, and will block up to 95% of hot and harmful UV rays from the sun. When a deck or patio is enclosed with outdoor screening, the whole area will be cooler and less heat is reflect indoors. In the mornings when the patio is in shade, roll the screening up, and in the afternoon when the sun comes around, roll it down again to deflect the heat of the day. On very hot days consider leaving the screening rolled down from the cooler night before, and you’ll enjoy more comfortable temperatures on the patio than in the yard just steps away.