Facing down the sun: What to do when your attic feels like a sauna


By AGENCY

If there is no other solution, interior sun protection also reduces the sun's effect to a certain degree in your attic. Photo: Velux/dpa

A converted attic adds more living space to your home and can be quite cozy during the cooler months. But in the hot season, spending any time there is akin to entering a sauna. Unfortunately, there's no easy solution.

Inadequate insulation and skylights that aren't adequately insulated are the main reasons the attic heats up. This problem can be remedied, but only to a limited extent without major renovation.

That's because roof insulation plays the biggest role in the attic's temperature.

"The surface of the roof and the windows form a complete system and should be considered as such," explains Marc Ellinger of a private building owners association in Germany.But, he added, "If of two poorly insulated components – the roof and the window – the smaller part is improved, it has no significant effect."External sun protection is best for a skylight: A roller shutter, for example, keeps the sun's rays out of the converted attic room below. Photo: Velux/dpaExternal sun protection is best for a skylight: A roller shutter, for example, keeps the sun's rays out of the converted attic room below. Photo: Velux/dpa

Exterior insulation

The solution isn't one that you can take on as a side project. Either the roof has to be better insulated from the inside or you install external insulation – though this all affects the roof.

Klaus Edelhaeuser from the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers does recommend external insulation, but he adds that it's best done in combination with repair work on the roof, or even replacement.

"Then it is often the simplest and most cost-effective option," he says.Indoor sun protection in the form of blinds, roller blinds or fabric coverings can keep some of the heat out. Photo: Verband Fenster + Fassade/Roto Frank Dachsystem-Technologie/dpaIndoor sun protection in the form of blinds, roller blinds or fabric coverings can keep some of the heat out. Photo: Verband Fenster + Fassade/Roto Frank Dachsystem-Technologie/dpa

External sun protection

Focusing on the skylights can help somewhat with the heat problem, and to a certain extent, you can avoid any hard-core renovation work: There are sun protection solutions for windows that can be installed from the inside or outside with only a few screws.

Interior sun protection in the form of sunblinds, roller blinds or fabric coverings can keep out much of the heat, Edelhaeuser says.

But it is "much more efficient if roller blinds or sunblinds are attached to the outside of the window so the heat doesn't get into the room in the first place," he adds.

There are also sun protection fabrics that can be clipped on the outside and strongly filter the sun's heat while only minimally reducing the sunlight. These are sometimes sold as awnings.Heat protection in the form of the right window glass is an important investment towards making sure your attic doesn't feel like a sauna. Photo: Velux/dpaHeat protection in the form of the right window glass is an important investment towards making sure your attic doesn't feel like a sauna. Photo: Velux/dpa

Solar control glass as an option

An alternative is to install solar control glass, which blocks up to 80% of the sun's energy from reaching the inside of the home. This is achieved through a very thin metal coating – and not comparable to the self-adhesive window films that block out sun.

This coating reduces the g value of the glass – which is an indicator of how well the glass transmits heat from the sun. When buying windows, you should try to find one with the lowest g value possible.

Edelhaeuser advises using glass with sun protection in tandem with external sun protection, such as an awning or roller blind, to maximise the amount of sun and heat that you're able to keep out.A roof's insulation has the biggest effect on how hot the attic. Photo: Kai Remmers/dpaA roof's insulation has the biggest effect on how hot the attic. Photo: Kai Remmers/dpa

A job for professionals

But installing special windows or insulating the roof isn't a suitable do-it-yourself project, says Edelhaeuser. Even small mistakes can ruin the hoped-for result and have serious consequences for the building, such as mould due to gaps in the insulation. – dpa

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