Construction and design features that changed indoor temperature control

Phantom Screens / August 3, 2016

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Mankind has sought indoor climate control methods for ages to survive the harsh conditions of winter and to cool off during the summer. Though modern technology has developed furnaces and air conditioning, there are some techniques that have been around longer and consume less energy. Using retractable screens can cool your home in the summer and the warmth of a fireplace will keep you cozy in winter. Consider adding these design features in your next home remodeling project.

Cooling the home

The sun’s rays are powerful and can quickly heat your home, especially when they stream through glass. Retractable window screens help to block ultraviolet light and prevent the sun from heating your house. Homeowners have used blinds and curtains to keep out light for years, but screens are a better option. Retractable window screens block 55 to 90% of ultraviolet sun rays and promote natural ventilation. Opening your windows allows a nice breeze to run through your home and prevents sunlight from heating your house. This also allows you to get fresh air without worrying about bugs.

Heating the space

Inglenooks have been used to heat homes and common halls since the Middle Ages. Essentially, an inglenook is a fireplace that sits perpendicular to seating and is often set in a small space. Originally, medieval halls placed a roaring fireplace in the center of the room to produce warmth. Though effective, this caused their halls to be stuffy and smoky, since chimneys had not yet been invented.

As construction techniques evolved, builders moved the fireplaces along exterior walls and created hoods to let smoke out. Walls were placed around the fireplace and the hearth was born. Eventually, small benches were added near the fire so families could sit and eat together in warmth.

Inglenooks became popular with affluent families over the years, and they often decorated the space with tapestries and paneling. Near the beginning of the 20th century, homeowners positioned the fireplace at the core of their house. For example, architect Frank Lloyd Wright placed an inglenook in his home in Oak Park, Ill. Once you walk inside the front door, you can see the inglenook off the hall in the living room. A curtain can close the inglenook off from the rest of the space and trap the heat in the small area. If you were to sit on one of the benches next to an inglenook, your feet would be warmed by the low-sitting fireplace.

Adding an inglenook

Once central heating and air conditioning was invented, people largely stopped using the inglenook. However, you can still create a cozy corner in your home by applying this medieval concept. Consider constructing one in the center of your house or against an exterior wall. Start by finding a small offset space that can contain the fireplace and benches or chairs. If you don’t have an existing nook, consider placing the fireplace in a corner and building a half wall to act as a perimeter that will divide the space from the rest of your house.

The floor of your inglenook should be made from a fire-resistant material, such as stone or tile. Consider creating the space around an existing fireplace for convenience. Next, pick benches that fit into the decor style of the rest of your home. You may also want to add a bookcase nearby to create a cozy reading area that separate from the living or family room.