Anyone who calls the Southwest home for any period of time will tell you that managing the heat in desert living is the most important aspect in creating a comfortable space. Heat rises as we all know and therefore structures tend to be low. Single storey homes are the most common profile, but even they require ingenuity to prevent heat from entering the interiors.
Portals or covered patios, deep and wide are an excellent design and are incorporated into many architects’ plans. They provide regular shade by reducing the number of hours of direct sun that will penetrate to the exterior walls. But even deep portals become unbearably hot in the summer months as heat rises from the desert landscape and wafts under the portal roof where it becomes trapped. That heat warms the exterior walls which in turn warms interior rooms. Even in the evenings after the sun sets, if you put your hand against the outside wall under the portal, you can feel the warmth of the stucco like an oven that’s still left on. That warmth will continue to heat your home throughout the night as long as those walls are warm. The next day, the process begins all over again.
The most reliable method of reducing this effect is the installation of retractable shade screens. With remote or manual controls, the screens can be raised and lowered as needed which will greatly reduce the level of heat that reaches the walls of the home. They effectively create a cushion of cooler temperature left over from the night air and so the exterior walls of the home remain cooler throughout the day. Screening is fabricated from a heavy mesh material that allows for clear views from the interior, yet prevents 90% of burning UV rays from entering the covered area. Outdoor potted plants will still receive the light they need, colored fabrics on patio cushions won’t fade, and you will be able to enjoy the outdoor seating area in comfort. Indoors, rooms will be naturally cooler and will need less air conditioning which can translate into substantial savings on cooling costs.