One common complaint with loft conversions used to be that they were baking in the summer and freezing in the winter. While insulation has improved over the years to keep lofts a bit snugger when the mercury falls, there’s still the potential for this uppermost room to become a heat trap in the warmer months.
The fact that heat rises up into the loft from the lower rooms, combined with the heat of the sun being intensified through the windows can turn it into a hotbox. Looking to the future, if we can expect average UK temperatures to rise more, one of the best loft conversion ideas is to build in ways to keep it cool.
Good ventilation is vital
The simplest way to keep a room cool is to ensure there’s plenty of ventilation, which will also prevent the room from becoming too humid. You can open a window or add a fan to the room to keep the air moving and help you cool down a little.
By far the easiest way to regulate temperatures, windows are eternally versatile – shut them when it’s cold; open them when it gets too hot – what’s not to love about windows? If possible, place your new windows opposite one another so you can get a through draught, which is such a relief on hot days or nights.
The other thing about Velux windows, if you have them, is that they let the hot air escape straight up and out. You could also incorporate passive stack ventilation into your build if you like.
Insulation is also important
Most modern lofts now have excellent insulation – you might think this would warm up the room, but good insulation is there to prevent sudden and strong changes in temperature. This means it keeps heat in if it’s cold outside and heat out if it’s hot out there. The insulation shouldn’t just be in the roof, it should also be in the walls as well, to provide extra stability.
Avoid direct sunlight
While the roof and wall insulation undoubtedly helps to regulate temperatures, the windows can let the side down. One well-known effect of a Velux window, especially if it’s south-facing, is its ability to concentrate the sun’s rays into what can feel like a deadly beam! This beam heats up the air in the loft to an uncomfortable degree (forgive the pun), so thick blinds – or reflective ones if you still want the light – are a must.
All the cooling methods listed so far don’t use any electricity, which is brilliant, as we all have to look after our carbon emissions, right? There’s not much history of air conditioning in the UK (see “Good ventilation is vital”, above…), but we’re catching on slowly. Thankfully, we’re catching on at a time when there are a lot of solar aircon systems being developed and coming onto the market.
Think about it – if it’s solar-powered, it’ll kick in when you need it most – genius!
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