Why Now: Awnings reduce solar heat gain, glare, and UV damage to your furniture without blocking airflow or views. They come in designs to match house styles ranging from Cape Cod to Queen Anne, and new fabrics and motorized rollers make them more durable and easier to maintain than awnings of yore.
How To Do It: Choose between stationary hood- or dome-type awnings mounted on a fixed aluminum frame and designed for seasonal removal, or retractable Venetian-style sideless ones, which roll up into a protective housing mounted above the window and can be left up year-round. Hoods and domes tend to block more sunlight because they have sides, but retractable ones give you more flexibility, allowing you to extend or roll up the awnings as the angle of the sun changes. Both types start at about $200 for a 36-inch window. In either case, look for dyed-acrylic or polyvinyl-laminate fabrics, which repel water and resist mildew and fading.
The Payoff: Reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing ones, which can slash cooling costs by as much as 25 percent.