How to Keep a Conservatory Warm in the Winter and Cool in the Summer
There are many factors that go into maintaining a comfortable temperature in a conservatory all year round. Primarily, it’s down to the materials used and its construction because these have a major impact on its thermal efficiency. The better a conservatory’s thermal efficiency, the less heat is transferred across its base, roof and windows. This keeps the warmth in during the winter and helps to prevent the conservatory getting too hot in the summer. In this article we look at the elements that play a key role in optimising a conservatory’s thermal insulation and the heating options available.
Conservatory Materials and Construction
There’s a great selection of glazing options available on the market today that balance thermal efficiency with heat reflectance and light transmittance. In effect, this enables a conservatory to retain heat, not get too hot during the summer and reduce the amount of glare within the room.
The entry level conservatory roofing system is polycarbonate. The technology for this material has greatly improved over the years thus improving its performance.
For example, Stormclad Heatguard polycarbonate is lightweight, extremely durable and is manufactured using a specially developed pigment that allows light to enter through the roof at the same time as deflecting solar radiation. Tests have shown that it can reduce heat transfer through the roof by over 50%.
A tiled roof, such as that found on a brick-and-mortar building, offers superb thermal and acoustic properties, and is extremely secure. The tiles can be made to match the existing property and they can be retrofitted to conservatories replacing old inefficient roofs.
However, some companies offer to fit insulation and tiles to an existing roof but consumers should be very careful choosing this solution. The existing roof is very unlikely to be designed to support the additional weight, which includes wind and snow loadings. This method is also very prone to condensation because of the placement of the insulation. Ideally, it should be placed on either side of its aluminium frame forming a warm roof structure that helps prevent condensation from developing.
Dwarf walls are a common feature in conservatory design and support the structure’s frame. They should have a cavity between the inner and outer leaf that should be filled with an insulating material to reduce heat loss through the walls. It is possible to retrofit insulation to a wall by drilling holes and injecting the material.
Conservatory Heating Solutions
So far the different means of preventing heat from escaping a conservatory have been explored. However, there’s another consideration to bear in mind – heating a conservatory in the first place.
Conservatory heaters come in many forms. One of the most popular are electric radiators. These look similar to traditional radiators but can be installed with minimum cost and disruption. It is usually costlier to run electric radiators but they are also cheaper to install. They are often more controllable because they can be turned on or off when the room is in use.
Another option is connecting an existing central heating system to the conservatory. This approach requires Building Regulations approval because if the conservatory is not sufficiently insulated and heated, the pipes and radiators may be at risk of freezing during prolonged cold weather.
Whilst air conditioning systems might be primarily thought of as a means of cooling an indoor environment, they can also work effectively as heaters.
They therefore represent an attractive alternative to the radiator.
Air conditioners work by piping a special fluid from one area to another, with specially-designed grills placed along the way, serving to collect and disperse heat, thereby transmitting it from one area to another. Air conditioners come in a number of different forms, ranging from small units designed to sit within a window to a network of pipes and ventilation shafts which spread across a large building such as a hospital. A conservatory’s needs will tend toward the former.
Of course, another key advantage of an air conditioning system is that, as well as heating a conservatory in winter, it can be used to keep one cool during the summer.
One of the most overlooked, and yet effective means of keeping a home warm is through the use of heavy curtains in front of the windows. These hugely negate heat transfer, especially when one considers their cost. In conservatories, it’s usually blinds that are favoured over curtains, but the principle applies just the same.
In order to get the best out of a set of blinds, open and close them throughout the day. During the daytime, the blinds should be opened in order to allow sunlight in. Once the sun begins going down, blinds should be closed in order to prevent heat from escaping.
There are many factors that impact on keeping a conservatory warm. From the type of materials that it’s built from to the type of heating system that is used from day to day. Typically, the cheaper the capital outlay for the heating solution, the more inefficient it will be. Therefore, the long term savings and gains should be considered before making a decision.
Another option is to completely replace your old conservatory. Modern conservatories benefit from using the very best technology and construction methods. This includes state of the art glazed units, insulated uprights and a thermally efficient roof. It makes it far easier to maintain a constant temperature ensuring a pleasant and comfortable space all year round.