A previous version of this article incorrectly said that window treatment supplier Stoneside is located in Washington, D.C. However it's located in Denver. The article has been corrected.

Whether you live in a hot humid climate or surrounded by dry desert air, the summer months can be rough.

You may be too hot outside but don’t want to spend your days in icy air-conditioned rooms or overspend on keeping those rooms cool. Home improvements directed at improving your comfort indoors and outside can make the summer months more appealing in every region.

Covered options for outdoor space

Amalia Graziani, a property developer, interior designer and owner of Noor Property Group in New York and San Francisco, recommends including a covered space outdoors wherever possible.

If you’re adding a pergola to an existing yard, it’s smart to consider placement of the covered area and the materials underfoot.

“A common mistake is creating a covered area directly off the back of a house,” Graziani says. “A pergola should be open with north and south exposure to allow air flow. This is called the Venturi effect: It creates a vacuum that carries cold air through an area.”

The ground material you choose for underneath a pergola also has an impact on its effectiveness. Ideally, the ground is grass or a stone that doesn't hold heat such as limestone, Graziani says.

“Bluestone is very popular, but it emanates heat and will make a shaded space significantly warmer,” Graziani says.

“To soften the look of these structures, I like to have flowering vines grow up and over the enclosure. I’m growing Pink Swing Clematis and Clematis paniculata on a current project — these varieties grow well in New York state.”

While umbrellas offer a simple option to create shade, a pergola is a more permanent solution.

“We hear it all the time, ‘I’d spend a lot more time in my backyard if I could get some relief from the blazing sun,' ” says Scott Selzer, CEO of StruXure in Atlanta, a manufacturer of pergolas with remote-controlled adjustable louvers.

“A pergola with pivoting louvers that can be adjusted at the touch of a button gives you the protection you need from sun, wind and rain showers, not only in the summer months, but all year long.”

A pergola offers shade outdoors and can help reduce interior heat gain by protecting exterior walls, Selzer says.

Indoor improvements to keep cool

While creating shade from the outside with a pergola or plants can help reduce heat buildup in your home, installing new window treatments is also effective.

“There are several ways different window treatments accomplish this, from specialized coatings to luxurious fabrics and utilizing air as an insulator,” says Rick Robertson, vice president of manufacturing, products and training at Stoneside, a window treatment supplier in Denver.

“Depending on your home’s aesthetic, one solution may make more sense than another.”

Cellular shades are the premier way to keep heat out of your home, Robertson says.

“Their distinctive honeycomb pattern of cells act as a heat-trapping barrier between your window and your interiors,” he says.

“Cellular shades are offered in single cell, double cell or the new Olympus cellular shades, which have an additional layer of honeycomb structure that creates a highly efficient heat-trapping mechanism that can reduce heat gain by up to 80 percent.”

Other options include solar shades, roman shades and drapery for insulation.

“Solar shades are a minimalist window treatment that employs weave density and specialized coatings to keep your home cool,” Robertson says. “Koolblack Technology is a unique dark-colored fabric available on window shades that reflects heat outside. There are also reflective metalized backings available that deflect the sun coming through windows.”

Roman shades and drapery use thicker, luxurious fabrics and extra linings to keep heat out of the house.

“The main difference between them is how they operate,” Robertson says. “Roman shades work much like regular shades but are made with durable fabrics that can help insulate your home from outdoor temperatures. Drapery, like Roman shades, offers cooling power through heat-absorbing fabric. Certain types of drapes can work well for temperature control indoors, such as those with a white backing and medium color, which the Department of Energy says lower incoming heat in the home by 33 percent.”

Whether you plan to enjoy the summer relaxing indoors or outside, consider improving your property’s heat resistance to make it more comfortable for you and your guests.

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