(BPT) - When warm weather arrives, does your family head outdoors to enjoy your patio or deck? Do they then turn around and head right back into the air-conditioned comfort when summer sun and temperatures make outdoor living spaces too hot to handle?
'In many areas of the country, the window of opportunity for enjoying your outdoor space opens in spring and closes when summer's worst heat hits,' says Mark Dammeyer, director of exterior products for Somfy Systems. 'Strong sun, hot temperatures and high humidity can make spending time on your deck or patio too uncomfortable, no matter how much you love the outdoors. Homeowners are always looking for ways to get the most time in their outdoor living spaces.'
If your deck time encompasses a month or two in spring and another in the fall, here are some ideas for how you can make your outdoor living spaces cooler, more comfortable and enjoyable all summer long:
Made in the shade
Fun in the sun is one of summer's best benefits, but too much sun can keep you off your deck or patio. Not only does direct sun make it too hot to sit out, sun exposure can damage your patio furnishings, the deck itself and your skin. Retractable awnings are a great - and great-looking - way to shield your outdoor living space from getting too much summer sun.
Awnings offer sun protection that can enable you to enjoy your deck more on sunny days, and can even help lower cooling bills by shading window and glass deck doors. Retractable awnings mean you can enjoy the benefits whenever you need them, and hide them when you don't. Somfy Systems' motorization solutions have made awnings even handier; a motorized retractable awning effortlessly retracts with a touch of a button. And, an optional sensor, such as the Eolis 3DWirefree (TM) RTS, can detect wind and automatically roll up your awning - even if you're not home. A Sunis WireFree (TM) RTS Sun Sensor can automatically extend your awning based on the sun's intensity. Simple innovative operating functions that adapt to your lifestyle.
Wet wins the day
When temperatures scorch, many of us head for the pool. Nothing cools and refreshes like a dip in the water. Adding a pool to your outdoor environment may not be practical, so look for smaller-scale options that can lend the cooling power of water to your deck or patio.
A simple outdoor fountain adds a splash of coolness and the soothing sound of moving water to your outdoor living space. Or, you can escalate your cooling efforts by installing a mister. You can find plenty of commercially available options that range from simple misting fans that connect to a garden hose to sophisticated systems that spread a light, refreshing spray over a large area. A simple online search will yield plenty of options, including some available at your neighborhood home improvement store.
Evaporative coolers are another great way to use moisture to cool the air. While indoor air conditioners draw excess moisture from the air to aid in cooling, evaporative coolers use simple physics to cool air through evaporation of water. These coolers draw the heat needed to evaporate water right out of the air - lowering the ambient temperature around the unit. Evaporative coolers work to cool the air the same way sweat works to cool off your body.
In addition to shade and moisture, choosing cooler accessories like lighter-colored furniture and solar lights (which don't give off heat like incandescents) can help keep your deck and patio cooler for longer this summer.
Look for furniture made of materials that will absorb less heat. That wrought-iron bistro set might look lovely on your deck, but it will heat up hot as a griddle when exposed to hours of summer sun. Fabrics and breathable materials like wicker will handle heat better than dark woods and metal.
The dog days of summer don't mean you have to give up your outdoor enjoyment. With the right combination of shade and cooling techniques, you can enjoy your deck or patio throughout the season.