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Open space within a building is often desirable for aesthetics, design and the comfort of the occupants. It does however prove a problem when the main aim of a building is to be as green as possible. This is because large open spaces require much more heat then smaller spaces with less surface area.
An open space found on many properties is the conservatory. These are framed glass structures that have the advantage of adding an extra room, which is particularly useful in the summer. The problem with conservatories is that they tend to overheat in the summer and leak heat from the building in the winter. When installing a conservatory it is important to insulate it against the connecting wall, making sure that the door between it and the main building are sealed as tight as possible.
Windows in the main living rooms should ideally be facing the sun to allow as much heat in as possible. They should be large and highly insulated with smaller windows used on the north side of the building. To control heat gained and lost, as well as privacy of the occupants, a variety of ways can be used. These include curtains, blinds and glass coatings.
There are three main forms of blinds: fabric, metal and wood. All provide an adjustable screen over a window and allow some sort of variable control of light to enter a building. Wooden Venetian style blinds (a collection of vertical slats) are ideal from a green perspective as they allow the occupants a wide range of adjustments for various light conditions. They are particularly useful for controlling heat in a Passive Solar Design building. Fabric blinds tend to roll up or down on a frame and metal blinds can be in either the form of shutter styles or slat. It is very difficult for blinds to insulate a property effectively. In order to do this they would need to be a custom close fit, which is often impractical and expensive.
Curtains are often thought of as providing insulation but in most cases this is simply not true. Often curtains simply block some of the air leakage in older properties. In order to provide some insulation specialist curtains are required. These have a layer of wool insulation inside up to 60mm thick and need to be made to the correct size of the window.