Keeping the heat out

Midcentury homes with gigantic windows are wonderful. We love looking out at our garden. But the heat…. the heat…

In years past we replaced all of our windows with modern double-pane ones which was a huge upgrade and made our lives much more pleasant – especially in the winter. But in the summer, I sit at the breakfast table with my back against the windows and roast. We live in a greenhouse.

A conversation on Twitter brought up that in Europe they routinely cover their windows to keep the heat out or in, depending on the season, which is something we haven’t really done in the US. We tend to focus on interior window coverings, but those just trap the heat by your windows. The heat is still inside your house. The 50s and 60s had awnings, but those don’t work for the morning hours when the sun is blasting into our kitchen.

Exterior shot of a garden and patio full of furniture with white roller blinds covering the window.
The roller blinds from the outside

One of the things that has changed is that we have smart homes so having outdoor blinds no longer requires going outside twice a day to pull them down and roll them back up. We decided to give outdoor roller shades a try. We went with Graywind custom shades* with a Zigbee motor. They can be triggered with a remote control and/or smart home hub. They have a battery that supposedly last 6 months and can be charged with USB-C cables.

Installing them was fairly trivial although it took a while because it’s hot outside. Every time we went out to work; it sucked out our will to live. But it involves putting up two brackets to hold the blinds and two magnetic brackets at the bottom of the window frame. It’s 10 screws per blind so really not a huge job. You need two people to mark where the brackets go, but you can let your helper free after that. You can add wire cable guides if you live in a windy area, although we skipped that for now.

Getting the remote to work and setting the top and bottom limits of the blinds was fussy and irritating. But it’s something you can do sitting in a chair in the shade.

Inside picture of a dining room with white exterior roller blinds covering the window.
Julie says it feels like we live in the movie E.T.

I use Home Assistant for home automation which is nerdy, but something most folks who have hosted a website or dealt with Docker containers can handle. I’ve setup the blinds to come down at 11:30pm each night. And to go up once the sun starts setting – i.e after the solar meridian. Here’s the trigger for that:

  - platform: template
    value_template: "{{ is_state_attr('sun.sun', 'rising', False) }}"

A very nerdy post, but hopefully someone finds it useful. It is great for keeping the heat out of your house and enjoying the garden in the afternoon.

A picture looking out towards the garden in mid-afternoon with patio furniture in the foreground and a pool and fire pit in the background.
The garden in mid-afternoon.

* Not a sponsored post. I received no compensation for this.

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