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  • Writer's pictureKate

Activity of the day: Cut the sun out (part 1)- simple window shading

This post links in with the Keep Your Cool series.

Today we'll be looking at how to make simple window shades using paper, card and foil. First up, the very simplest thing to do:

Stick scrap paper onto your windows

This is best only if you want to do something really quick and aren't too bothered about looking out of the window when the sun is gone for the day. It does have the advantage of being nearly free (make a tiny bit of flour and water paste if you have no tape or glue just to stick the corners of the paper onto the window- it washes back off easily if you use plenty of water to dissolve it). And also, you can paint, draw on and decorate the paper to give yourself something nice to look at.

Using kitchen foil or first aid space blankets instead of paper will reflect more light and keep the room even cooler- but will also make the room a lot darker.

If you just want to go the route of paste and paint without bothering with the paper, you’re following a great greenhouse tradition of using shade paint. Just make sure it’s a pale colour- white is best- to reflect the light- and preferably check you're going to be able to wash it back off again in the autumn before you cover your whole windows...

A slightly more complicated but much more durable option is idea 2:

Make removeable card internal “shutters”

You can usually get cardboard boxes or sturdy paper for free from most shops, as they throw out delivery boxes almost every day.

Use scissors or a sharp knife (a knife is usually easier on thick card) to cut the card so it fits neatly into the window. With big windows you may need to tape more than one piece of card together- or stitch the sections together with string. Below we're folding and taping packing paper to fit a window:

Covering the side of the shutter facing the glass with foil or white paper (we use diluted PVA glue to stick on kitchen foil) will help make the shutters better at keeping the heat out:

...And you can decorate the room side of the shutters however you like.

Of course, these will make the room very dark if they’re used on all the windows: We’ve tended to use these only on windows where we’re not going to be in the room during the day anyway, or where there’s a bit of a bigger window that’s a particular problem – such as an opening light that can’t have a blind over it.

Here we have foil-covered card shutters on the opening parts of these windows (they're European style inwards opening ones so don't work so well with blinds as they clash) and simple curtains on the main section of the window- this means the main bit of the window can be uncovered when the sun has gone, but the smaller part stays shaded all the time.

All the ideas from today are stuck onto the glass, so they work well on sloping Velux style attic windows or rooflights as well as on vertical windows. Sloping glazing can catch a lot more sun than vertical glazing and is hard to shade, so can be a really big issue for overheating. If you have unshaded rooflights, it's probably really worthwhile to shade them with a foil-type covering to reduce heat gain.

Take a look at tomorrow's Activity of the Day for how to make a simple curtain using scrap fabric or other material such as a duvet cover or sheet, and hope you've enjoyed today's ideas!

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