Living and perhaps even working in an attic apartment, formerly also known as a mansard, constitutes a special lifestyle for many reasons. A view of the green treetops in your garden or the sea of city lights at night - for many people, this sounds like a dream come true. It can be, but for all its beauty, this style of living also has its pitfalls.
In addition to the constraints posed by the sloping ceilings, the intense heat build-up in the summer months is definitely one of them. We provide helpful tips on how to keep the worst of the heat out.
Since the living space in the attic is located directly under the roof, it is not only affected by heat coming in through the windows, but also by the heat generated by the roof surface as a whole.
Physics teaches us that warm air is lighter than cold air. Thus, the warm air is displaced by the cold air, in our case to under the roof. This is commonly referred to as the "warm air rising to the top" phenomenon. This means that heat accumulates under the roof surface, as there is little opportunity for it to escape.
Attic apartments in old buildings are additionally affected by the often inferior insulation, which amplifies this effect.
Tip 1 - Shield all windows from the sun's rays
This tip sounds relatively simple, but it is actually one of the most effective if implemented properly. Roof windows are directly exposed to the sun's rays. Of course, the larger the window areas, the more dramatic the effects.
Properly means keeping the windows protected throughout the day. Blackout blinds, venetian blinds or thick curtains are suitable for this purpose. The efficacy is also determined by the material and the colour. The more the sun's rays are reflected, the cooler the room. Light colours are better suited for this purpose.
Get advice from a specialist shop on what could be the best solution for you. Special metallic textiles and aluminium blinds are available to this end. You also get heat control films for roof windows, which can be applied to the inside of the window pane. Window films have the advantage that they keep the heat out, but at the same time allow a certain amount of light to penetrate. This means you don't have to spend the summer in artificial light.
The undisputed number one when it comes to shading windows, however, are external roller shutters or window blinds, which are commonly used in the warm south for good reason. They reflect and keep the heat out completely. This eliminates the greenhouse effect that can occur in the case of interior insulation.
Tip 2 - Proper ventilation
If you are accustomed to opening the windows when it gets too warm inside, you should resist the urge to do so as much as possible in an attic apartment. Your windows should remain closed throughout the day. Only air in the late evening, long after sunset, or in the early morning. All night long, if you like.
Otherwise, you would achieve the opposite effect, because on hot summer days the temperatures outside are still significantly higher than inside, and this heat would immediately stream in. The most effective method of airing is so-called cross ventilation. This involves opening opposite windows completely, if possible, so that the fresh air can sweep through the entire flat.
Tip 3 - Evaporative cooling
One way to noticeably lower the temperatures in the home is, of course, air conditioning. Due to the high energy consumption and the possible harmful effects on health, however, this is only recommended for private households in exceptional cases.
A simple but quite effective alternative is to use a fan to achieve evaporative cooling. You can moisten your skin and will then find the breeze pleasantly cooling. Or you can simply hang a wet towel in the airstream of the fan, which cools the air in the room.
Tip 4 - Structural measures
In the long run, roof insulation improvements and/or the installation of special windows are the most sustainable solution. The heat protection is determined by the so-called g-value of the windows. It denotes the total energy transmittance, which indicates the solar heat gain through the window.
If you are the owner of the attic, it makes sense to think about these investments in the home value in the long term. As a tenant of a mansard with outdated construction, a friendly and informative conversation with the landlord may help to make him aware of the problem.
Tip 5 - Avoid additional heat sources
All the electrical appliances in your household generate heat. It is therefore recommendable to avoid as much of this additional "heating" as possible in summer. Instead of the stand-by function, use switchable sockets and cut off the power supply completely when not in use.
Do without the dryer if possible and opt for outdoor drying in the garden. Perhaps the use of the dishwasher can also be reduced to a minimum. The refrigerator should be closed again as soon as possible after use, no matter how tempting the cooling effect may be. This is because it will consume significantly more energy afterwards to cool down again due to the cold emission. And this in turn generates heat.
If you moved into an attic apartment out of conviction, you will love and enjoy its advantages in spring, autumn and winter. The few weeks a year with really uncomfortably high temperatures are truly exhausting, but the enthusiast will put up with them and try to make the best of it.