Keeping it cool while the heat is on
It can be the best feeling in the world to sit in an outdoor room, enjoying some freshly cooked barbecue, and listening to the wind chimes or outdoor clocks, but when the air is too hot or humid, sitting outside can be like sitting in a sauna. Not exactly the most comfortable way to enjoy a room that can cost as much as 10 percent of your home's value.
Luckily, there are acclimatizing options for cooling as well as for heating your outdoor room so that you can sit as comfortably there as you can in your air-conditioned house.
Outdoor cooling methods are unique, since there is really no way to contain the cool air in an open-sided room. One such method is misting, which cools the air to 85 F for comfortable sitting.
Contrary to some belief, misting doesn't increase the humidity in the air. The nozzles release a stream of water so thin that it's actually one-tenth the size of a human hair. This creates a comfortable "fog" that evaporates immediately, leaving the air cool and refreshing.
Misting is most commonly used in amusement parks and other professional capacities, but it's starting to be installed in residential homes. The effect is very much like air conditioning. The only downside to misting your outdoor room is that your furniture and floors could be covered in light, very tiny water droplets. But if you've weatherproofed everything, this won't be a problem. The water isn't uncomfortable, either - it will evaporate quickly in the warm air. The best placement for an outdoor misting system is along the edges of your outdoor room, so that it creates a sort of "curtain" against the heat of the day.
The system attaches to an overhead shelter and incorporates many well-designed nozzles to provide a continuous cool spray for however long you want to sit outdoors. It's perfect for parties when your outdoor room may have a lot of people in close proximity to one another.
Outdoor fans are another cooling option for outdoor rooms. They attach to the ceiling of your pergola or shelter and keep the air moving so the heat isn't felt so much. Fans can also be attached to an outdoor umbrella, and in fact some commercially sold umbrellas actually include an outdoor fan option. You can also buy a freestanding outdoor fan to cool certain spots of your outdoor room, like a sofa or a hammock. They run on electricity and even make a difference in rainy conditions, when the heat might be lowered but the humidity can be overwhelming.
For safety's sake, be sure to install your fan away from children and high traffic areas.