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by Carole Schwalm The sun rising between two small peaks against a red sky.

By 11 AM yesterday, the temperature outside was in the mid-80’s. It reached the high 90’s just before 1 PM and it remained that high long after 6:30 PM. Not bad, you think. But (and this is a big but…), at 11 AM a thermometer placed on a lawn chair in the sun read 107°. At noon the lawn chair reading was 114°. By evening, when you think it might cool off a bit, it was 105°. That’s hot and uncomfortable heat. Who wants to fire up the grill? Extreme heat is also dangerous for children and pets.

I want to enjoy the outdoors! How can I?

Our experiment revealed the solution. Are you ready? At 11 AM, the temperature in the shade was 79°. At 1 PM, a shade positioned lawn chair thermometer read 84 degrees. At 6:30 PM the lawn chair reading was 85 degrees in the shade. All well within a comfort zone, even pleasant for barbecuing. If 85° is still too sultry for you, plug in an outdoor fan and you’ve got perfection.

I want to enjoy the outdoors! How can I? I don‘t have shade.

I have an answer for that. A shade cloth is an attractive solution. It is large enough to make the outdoors comfortable for you, your lawn chair, kids and assorted toys and a couple of pets. The more the merrier. If you do have more merry-makers, consider grouping two cloths to create a very unique covering. There’s no limit to what your imagination can conjure up! Don’t miss anymore of the summer days and nights. It’s a long, winter indoors.

Photograph of the bright sun in the sky Outdoor shading lowers inside house temperatures by the same degree factor as it can outdoors. In some cases reductions are even more depending on whether windows are east or west, or southern exposure.

In addition to the above experiment, we placed the thermometer in a shaded area with a roof overhang with a window with western exposure. We placed a thermometer in a window receiving pure sun.

The shaded window averaged a comfortable 72 degrees through around early 80’s degrees on a 94 degree day. The pure-sun window maintained over 100 degrees. The temperature was ludicrous during the hottest part of the day. I’ve had windowsill plant leaves actually burn when they touch the window in an unshaded area. Bread rises at warp speed and actually begins to bake on an unshaded windowsill. This type of maximum exposure increases inside temps dramatically.

You may not live in a passive solar energy efficient home, but you can do things to make it one.

Share your outdoor shade experience or if you'd like more information.