The last few years have seen Britain enjoy some spectacular summers, so it’s easy to understand why so many homeowners are opting to invest in conservatories, or to de-clutter the conservatories that they already have and turn them into relaxing summer living rooms. Spending a warm summer evening relaxing in your conservatory and taking in a beautiful view of your garden is almost like going away on a mini holiday. The only downside to conservatories is that during the day they can get rather warm. The good news is that this is easy enough to fix, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your conservatory cool and comfortable.
Here are a few simple changes that will keep your conservatory at a comfortable temperature under the summer sun. Many of these tips also apply to other rooms in the house. If you don’t have a dedicated conservatory, and don’t have the space to get one built, then you can use these tips to convert a living room or spare room that sees a lot of sunlight into a “garden room” or a “sun room” for people to relax in during the height of the summer:
Blinds and Window Films
Blinds work both ways – in the summer, they keep heat out, and in the winter they keep heat in. This makes blinds a great addition to any conservatory. Temperature management is not the only feature of blinds, either. They also do double duty blocking out the glare from the sun, and offering privacy when it is needed. Motorized blinds are incredibly convenient, but can be expensive. Pull-cord operated blinds look just as good, however, and are far more affordable. Choose brightly coloured blinds to make your conservatory look bigger and more welcoming, and to match the summery tone of the room.
Another good way to manage heat in your conservatory is to fit window films. These films work by filtering UV light, reducing glare and stopping too much heat from passing through the glass. The films reflect the energy from the sun away from the conservatory, ensuring that it stays at a pleasant temperature. Window films are fairly affordable, and can be added to an existing conservatory quite easily.
Air conditioning units
Dedicated air conditioning units are quite expensive to run, so they are usually installed only as a last resort. However, if you really like your conservatory and plan on spending a lot of time in it then air conditioning is a good investment, because many modern units can be used for heating as well as cooling.
One option that you may want to consider if you own your home and do not plan on moving in the near future is a solar-assisted air conditioning unit. These units are cheaper to run, and are ideal for keeping a conservatory at a steady temperature throughout the year.
A good fan is a must-have for any homeowner during the summer months. If you are getting a new conservatory built, be sure to add a large ceiling fan to the conservatory’s feature list. In addition to this, consider investing in a couple of standing fans; preferably motorized fans with variable speeds. If you don’t like the look of large, bladed fans, choose one of the new bladeless designs for extra style. Depending on the size of the conservatory, you may want more than one fan.
If you are getting a new conservatory built, ask the contractors to include some vents in the roof, and lots of windows that can be opened. Make sure that the roof vents have a secondary grille on the underside for added security, and that all of the windows are lockable. To maximise airflow, it is important to have vents at both the top and bottom of the conservatory. You will need to remember to close some of those vents when the weather starts getting colder, otherwise you will waste a lot of energy keeping the conservatory warm later in the year.
It’s better to think about ventilation before the conservatory is built, because adding extra ventilation afterwards may be expensive. If you did not build vents and windows into your design, consider getting an openable skylight added, or just keeping the door open while you are using the conservatory. Add a beaded curtain to the patio doors for privacy.
There are several simple accessories that can make your conservatory a more comfortable place to spend time. Keep some potted plants in the conservatory to help with moisture, and choose a light colour scheme so that the room does not feel oppressive. Consider decorating the conservatory with a free-standing fountain or water feature because the look and sound of the water will help you to relax and feel cooler.
When you are choosing furniture, opt for soft fabrics over leather, because leather tends to feel sweaty in warm weather, while cotton and other similar materials will make you feel cooler. Wooden furniture is also both cooling and visually appealing.
Another option is to keep a mini-fridge in the conservatory so that there are always cooling and refreshing drinks on hand. This won’t actually make the conservatory itself any cooler, but it will keep you comfortable.
Once you have got your conservatory set up the way you like it, you’ll find that it’s a great place to spend time in. During the summer, many people use their conservatory as a replacement living room; dining, playing and entertaining in it. With a few changes to the blinds, and a little extra heating, you can extend the use of the conservatory to the autumn too, giving you that extra bit of precious living space for much longer.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sansharma/and https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjoro/