The Power of Sun and Dry Air: An Alberta Advantage

Posted on 6 June 2018

If you’ve lived in Alberta through a winter season, you’ve heard the line, “Well, at least it’s a dry cold!” Certainly the humid cold on the east coast is worse because it soaks deep into the bones. Here, we can easily block that dry cold with comfortable layers of clothing.

While experts tell us that this is, in large part, a myth, we know that humidity does affect our comfort level related to temperature. This is more obvious in the context of hot, rather than cold. The humidex is often quoted on weather forecasts to give us a more realistic sense of how hot it ‘feels’. The higher the humidity, the hotter it feels – and therefore the lower the humidity the cooler it feels. This is part of our Alberta advantage. We’ve noticed it while enjoying lovely warm evenings on the deck – until the sun goes down! In more humid climates, the moisture in the air holds onto the warmth longer, allowing people to enjoy the warmth longer into the night – or suffering the heat. On the flip side, once the sunlight stops shining on drier air, it quickly becomes cooler. This can be a great relief for getting a pleasant sleep at night.

The other Alberta advantage is sunlight. Of all major Canadian cities, Calgary gets the most days of bright sunshine a year, and Edmonton comes in third. (Hello Winnipeg for 2nd place!) Aside from the ‘happy’ factor of more sunlight hours, all this sun serves as a free source of energy – without even having to purchase solar panels. The most effective way for sunlight, and warmth, to naturally come into your home is through windows. With a properly oriented house, passive heat via windows will reduce the use of a furnace by a remarkable degree. In summer this becomes a problem. All that solar radiation can turn that same house into an oven.

Putting the two advantages together is powerful. Let the sun shine when we want to feel warm and happy. And with our dry air, just cast some shade and feel the pleasure of cooler temperatures. This applies both to the interior our homes and our outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor awnings and screens stop the sun from overheating the deck, allowing the coolness of low humidity to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Awnings and outdoor screens casting shade on windows and walls prevent unwanted heat from building up in the house. In fact, stopping the sun before it touches windows is 3 times as effective as blocking it with inside blinds. And while exterior screens or awnings are minimizing the build up of heat in the home, strategically opening windows and doors (which are screened for bug protection) promotes movement of our low humidity air, helping to expel heat from the home.

Properly installed retractable and adjustable awnings and screens allow nature to warm and cool our homes – especially in the sunny dry climate of Alberta. Taking advantage of what is freely available to us reduces capital, maintenance and operating costs of furnaces and air conditioners. Learn how you this advantage can work for your home. Call Solaris and book an appointment today!

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