Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Windows & ceiling fans for improved summer & winter comfort.

The cold from drafts last year with the family's discomfort last summer with lack of ventilation or ability to open doors without letting insects in inspired me to think of solutions.
Although we have plans to fit air conditioning in the kitchen and our office upstairs, it's simply not practical to have a house this size with ceilings this high be air conditioned.
In any case, it's not a healthy solution.

As we have a lot of roof over-hang and also had some very draughty old sliding doors that cut much light due to their frosted glass (whilst also reducing view of the garden), so we got a quotation to have custom made sliding double-glazed doors. These were fitted by specialists whilst Arnie was working on the chimney flue.

Although structurally it was OK, the quality of finishing was laughable as in being non-existent for some parts so I was prepared to ask the company owner if he'd leave screws exposed on the outside of the house, were it his own. He seemed to pre-emp my planned questioning by presenting an invoice with 20% off his original quotation, so we duly paid it and had Arnie make some nice trim to match the rest of the exterior, so these look more authentic than aluminium would have done.

Still, I learnt my lesson. Watch the work of contractors and make sure they do a good job before they make mistakes and leave them. Not all Japanese work to high quality, especially in the building trade, is something I've come to learn.

Views of the garden and daylight are of course much improved & the rooms are a lot less draughty. We hope they'll be less permeable by insects in the summer too and plan to keep the windows open during the day with use of well fitting mosquito screens that make up part of this installation. Inside, there's still some staining of wood & small pieces of trim to add inside, but with all of these things when restoring & improving an old house - the work's never really finsihed. Someday soon I'll get around to it.
The plan for these windows is to have silk blinds which will be custom made in Portugal by someone we know.
We'll have to commission those sometime soon as the intention will be to bring them home with us after visitting this coming summer...

Before Ryan & Mandy - our friends in the military returned to the States at the end of last year, I ordered some Hunter fans with extra long poles to fit.
Fortunately as Arnie had extra wiring put in with the intention of using these for picture lights, it wasn't too difficult for me to neatly integrate into the style of the house with all wiring hidden above the beams.

We've left them around 2 metres off the ground, which to some may seem quite low, but my thinking is that the greater the space above them, the less hot air that may be blown downwards in summer. They're silent and apparently quite efficient. Although we could use them for convection of heat from the stove we haven't really - so far, so we'll wait and see how effective these are.

The main lounge:

The second lounge:

Next will be the planned air-conditioning and fitted de-humidifiers in custom made wardrobes... sometime before summer. Then we'll see how effective our changes have been.
Always much to do, but we need to pace ourselves. As I said to my wife, the first two years of living here will be the hardest, then it' should get more and more comfortable.

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