awningAwnings are coverings that extend from the outside of buildings and provide shade. Normally they are placed directly above windows. Though awnings have gotten more sophisticated over time, they are a very simple technology and have been used for centuries. All that you need to create an awning is a covering, something to attach the covering to a building, and posts to extend that covering up into the air. Modern awnings are typically made of durable polyester fibers that have been coated in acrylic or vinyl, and some of these awnings can be automatically retracted and rolled at the press of a button. Traditional awnings were usually made of canvas, wood, or steel, and they had to be retracted or folded down manually.

Though awnings are such a simple technology, they are actually very useful. For stores, they have two primary uses. Firstly, they provide a shaded area for customers, so that they can stop and look at products through the window even if it’s extremely hot, raining, or snowing. Awnings have also been traditionally used to draw attention to stores, and have been striped, brightly colored, or printed with lettering to make a storefront look more unique.

For private residences, awnings are underestimated in their ability to save energy. By blocking some of the sunlight that enters through the window, awnings can keep a room or home significantly cooler on a hot summer day. This reduces the need for electricity to power fans and air conditioning. If there are furniture or other items that may be damaged or faded due to sunlight, awnings can also protect them. And of course, awnings are a great way to extend shade to front yards, backyards, and porches. A homeowner can create comfortable spots outside that are protected from the sun and the elements, and these are especially useful when hosting parties or having guests over.