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Beat the heat: Simple solutions for keeping outdoor spaces cool and comfortable

(BPT) - Are summer's sizzling temperatures causing you to retreat from your favorite outdoor spaces? Decks, patios and other outdoor areas should be enjoyed throughout the year, but heat, sun...

(BPT) - Are summer's sizzling temperatures causing you to retreat from your favorite outdoor spaces? Decks, patios and other outdoor areas should be enjoyed throughout the year, but heat, sun and humidity can quickly make being outside intolerable during the dog days of summer. The good news is that keeping outdoor spaces comfortable and cool doesn't have to be a challenge - in fact, it can be quite simple.

Beat the heat and take back your favorite outdoor areas by utilizing these helpful solutions to some of the most common challenges of being outdoors during hot weather:

Challenge: Scorching sun
Solution: Strategic shading
Shade can reduce heat considerably, but in order to maximize the effect shade has on your outdoor space, evaluate sun patterns to identify the hottest areas. After doing so, you can strategically implement shade features for maximum effect. For example, umbrellas and awnings add instant shade and ambience when placed to block the noon sun. Trees and shrubs provide a permanent solution that grows and fills in over time - good for afternoon sun and privacy. Vine-covered trellises offer a seasonal solution that blocks sunlight and aligns well with the natural elements outdoors.

Challenge: Sweltering temperatures
Solution: Portable evaporative coolers
Even with shade, outdoor heat can be unbearable. Fortunately, you can quickly cool outdoor spaces like patios, garages, greenhouses and work areas with evaporative coolers. For example, a portable evaporative cooler such as the Port-A-Cool Cyclone can provide a cooling effect by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit in spaces up to 700 square feet. These products use advanced technology, water and the ambient air in order to cool an outdoor space. The best part? They won't leave you wet like misters or simply blow around hot air like a fan. Learn more about evaporative coolers at www.port-a-cool.com.

Challenge: Uncomfortable furniture
Solution: Cushions/new materials
Furniture is a necessary part of a comfortable, inviting outdoor environment - even if it's just a few chairs for relaxing. The problem is popular wrought-iron and metal furniture can become griddle-hot in the summer sun. Cut the burn and maximize furniture use all year long by covering metal furniture with cushions made from a durable, breathable material like cotton. Or, if it's time to invest in new furniture, opt for pieces made from alternative materials like wicker, light-colored plastic and wood that tend to reflect the sun and stay cooler to the touch.

Challenge: Blistering flooring
Solution: Shade and rugs
Summer weather can heat outdoor flooring to blistering temperatures, making it nearly impossible to go barefoot outside. Bring the heat down to toe-safe temperatures with shade and outdoor rugs in light colors that reflect the sun. Not only do rugs in pastel shades keep feet comfortable, they also add some color to brighten outdoor spaces in cheery summer shades. Opt for one large area rug or place a few smaller rugs throughout the space where foot traffic is heaviest. Bonus: rugs help collect sand and dirt from feet so less gets tracked inside.

Challenge: Phantom heat
Solution: Seek the source
If you feel like you've done everything possible to cut heat but your outdoor spaces are still uncomfortable, look for phantom heat sources. For example, grilling is a popular summertime activity, but grills put off a ton of heat even after they have been turned off. Try moving the grill away from lounging areas and downwind from where people are located and see if it helps reduce the heat in your area. Any other appliances that produce heat - like mini fridges in outdoor kitchens - should be energy efficient and located a comfortable distance from where people congregate.

Hot weather challenges can be frustrating. A few simple steps today can help lower the temperature in outdoor spaces so your family can enjoy time outside even during the hottest days of the year.

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