A conservatory or sunroom is a wonderful addition to any home, but keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer can be a real challenge. In this article, we discuss some smart ideas for managing the temperature in your existing conservatory or planning and building the most energy efficient sunroom possible. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Make Smart Choices From The Start
If you are able to build a new conservatory, be sure to make energy efficient choices right from the start. Begin by picking the right location. It should be sunny in winter and shady in summer. A southern exposure with deciduous trees nearby is perfect.
When building from the ground-up, begin with a design that is easy for you to insulate. A conservatory that has a ceiling and roof is easier to insulate than one that is made entirely of glass. Insulate the space between the ceiling and roof, as well as insulating below the floor.
Extending the ductwork of your existing central heat and air system is permitted in some areas, but be sure to check with your local officials to determine this before undertaking this project. When building a conservatory, it’s a good idea to install a separate heating and cooling system.
Trench heating is a good space-saving option if you are building or remodeling a conservatory. To use this type of heating, you must dig a trench below the floor and install a radiator unit. Cover it with a grill which allows the heat to rise into the room.
Under-floor heating can also be installed under a laminate or tile floor in a new conservatory or one that it being remodeled. This option involves a network of heating elements interwoven beneath the entire floor of the room.
This form of heating saves space and provides consistent heat. On the downside, it takes a long time to warm up and cool down so if your climate is unpredictable, you may find yourself frequently too hot or too cold.
In addition to insulating below the flooring, add a thick carpet pad and carpeting on top to prevent losing heat through the flooring.
Energy Efficient Glass Makes A Big Difference
The heating requirements of a conservatory can be quite a challenge because these structures often have high glass ceilings and walls. If the glass is old-fashioned, single-paned, you lose an awful lot of heat.
This is why it is so important to build a new conservatory using properly insulated, double-paned glass. If you have single paned windows in your current conservatory, replacing them with updated, energy-efficient windows is an investment that can save you a lot of money in the long run.
If you are not able to replace your existing conservatory glass, you may be able to add an energy efficient coating, film or tint. There are lots of choices in this sort of product ranging from purely decorative to highly energy efficient sorts that not only help keep the temperature of your conservatory at an even keel but also strengthen the glass and protect it against breakage.
Improve Heat Retention
Another problem with the thin glass used in older conservatories is that the frames surrounding it may be leaky. If you have old, framed windows in your sunroom use weather-stripping and clear caulking to seal up any leaks and stop cold air getting in and warm air getting out.
Older sunrooms can be made more energy efficient with inexpensive window coverings. You can purchase a weatherization kit or simply buy a roll of plastic sheeting designed for the purpose of insulating windows. A layer indoors and a layer outdoors act as good insulation to block cold and drafts and keep heat in.
You can go with clear plastic sheeting for better visibility, but in truth, white plastic sheeting distributes heat more evenly and is better if you wish to keep plants in your conservatory through the winter. It also provides some privacy.
If you are concerned about using and disposing of plastic sheeting, make the most use of it you can. When you take it down in the springtime, do so carefully. Fold it up and store it and use it as row covering or weed blocker sheeting in your garden. Use it to cover items you want to keep dry outdoors during the rainy season or dust-free in your garage year-round.
Insulated drapes are also a good idea in a conservatory. Close them at night during the winter to retain heat. Close them in the daytime during the summer months to keep heat out.
Retractable awnings also help control temperature in the conservatory. Pull them open when the sun is too hot and roll them back up when you want to take advantage of the warmth of the sun.
Heating And Cooling An Existing Conservatory
Simple heating solutions can help you make good use of your conservatory year round. Heating options can range from inexpensive portable units to elaborate, built in solutions. Here are some of the best for you to choose from:
- Portable Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) is like the sort of heating and cooling unit used by many hotels. This is a good choice for areas that have fluctuating weather conditions.
- Mini Heat Pumps are a nice choice for areas that have very cold winter weather.
- Electric baseboards can be an efficient and space saving choice in a conservatory.
- Ventless fireplaces are very good for heating small spaces and adding cozy charm.
- Electric radiators that work by heating oil inside their coils are quite energy efficient. Keeping a radiator set on low keeps the chill out of the room.
- Small space heaters can be very efficient if chosen carefully and used correctly. A couple of low watt units kept running at a low setting can chase off the chill better and more efficiently than higher wattage units turned on high only when in use.
- An electric fireplace is just a glorified space heater, but it can add a touch of ambiance to your room while helping you stay nice and toasty.
Although electric heaters and radiators have a bad reputation for consuming a great deal of energy, the fact is newer, more energy efficient models can be very cost effective if used carefully and mindfully.
Energy Experts: Space Heaters
When choosing an electric radiator or heater for your conservatory, make sure you understand the power of the unit you have in mind. Many modern radiators designed for larger spaces generate an incredible amount of heat. Be sure to choose a unit that is the right size and has the right heat output to suit your situation.
Heating & Cooling Options
A dual-purpose heating and cooling unit is a good idea if you experience very hot summers and very cold winters. This sort of unit tends not to reach extremes of either cooling or heating, but it can significantly adjust the overall temperature, which can then be tweaked with the use of small heaters and/or fans.
Adding a ceiling fan is a great way to keep your sunroom cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In summer time, set the blades to suck up the hot air and disperse it. In winter, reverse the blades to blow warm air down from the ceiling and into the room.
Using a combination of solutions is a smart way to get exactly the results you desire. For example, if you have your existing central heat and air extended to your sunroom, you may also wish to make use of electric heaters and/or fans to get it just right.
Enjoy Your Conservatory All Year Round
Once you have taken steps to seal and insulate your conservatory and made some wise heating and cooling choices, you can look forward to enjoying your sunny space every day of the year.
A well-insulated, climate controlled sunroom is the perfect place to read, relax, socialize or even do a bit of gardening year-round. Refer to the tips presented here as you make smart choices to make the most use of your conservatory.