With the rising cost of living and energy prices, if you are looking to purchase a glass extension, or you already have a glass room, you may be concerned about how you keep your conservatory warm in winter, without spiralling heating costs.
The energy efficiency of your conservatory is twofold:
1. External structure materials and insulation
2. Internal heating and window dressings
Here are the top 8 ways to increase the energy efficiency of your conservatory or orangery. Create a comfortable space that can be enjoyed in the colder months, ensuring your heating bills don’t increase even more.
1. Energy Efficient Glazing
The most important part of your conservatory construction when it comes to energy efficiency is the glass. Not all glass is created equal in conservatory construction, and as a bare minimum, you will need double-glazed glass which uses a sandwich construction trapping argon gas between two panes to keep the heat in. But really, if you want your investment in a glass room to be worthwhile and ensure your new space is usable all year round, you should focus the majority of your budget on selecting the very best glass you can afford. There are various options on the market, and they vary greatly in price as well as how they are constructed and the level of temperature and light control that they offer. Obviously, your new room will be predominantly constructed from glass, so that will be where the war against heat loss will be won and lost, so finding a glass with the lowest U-value possible will be the key to an efficient room.
2. Roof Insulation
As we know heat rises and the roof will likely be the largest surface area of glass in the construction and therefore is where the most heat can escape. So, again ensuring that you purchase the most superior glass on the market that falls within your budget will be the best investment. Look for roof glass that has advanced temperature control technology to reduce heat in summer, reduce heat loss in winter and has anti-glare and UV blocking properties. If you have had a conservatory built already, or have inherited one when you purchased your home, you should look at whether it would be worthwhile upgrading your roof glass to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the heat loss out of your home. In some instances, adding a fully insulated solid tiled roof could be a compromise as it may command a lower investment, you could include a smaller lantern roof or skylights to increase the light filtering into the room while upgrading the insulation properties.
3. Frame material
The frame material that you choose for your orangery or conservatory can also help with heat retention. The most popular frame materials are timber, uPVC, aluminium, and oak. Each frame material will offer different insulation properties, for example, aluminium frames are usually constructed with a ‘thermal break’ which acts as a barrier between the external and internal frames, adding extra insulation and providing higher energy efficiency to your glass extension. The low conductivity of uPVC frames teamed with specialist double-glazed temperature-controlled glass creates the perfect combination for superior energy efficiency in your glass room. It is best to do your research on frames and which option will give you the look you want alongside energy efficiency and the level of maintenance that you are comfortable with to maintain your structure.
4. Conservatory base and walls
It is essential that any walls you have as part of your design, whether full height or dwarf walls, are built to standard and include cavity wall insulation. The concrete base must have the correct continuous damp proof membranes inclusive to keep away damp too.
5. Internal doors
If you have or are planning on having a glass extension that is open to your home, you will really need to consider the insulation to ensure that the glass room won’t impact the overall temperature of your home. A great option to help with maintaining warmth in your home would be to install a bi-fold door that opens your home up to the new space completely giving the open plan feel that you want to achieve, but still giving you the option to shut off the glass extension from the home to keep warmth in. Keeping the doors closed when you are enjoying your glass space will trap the heat into the room keeping your conservatory warm with less energy consumption.
6. Window and door seal maintenance
It is important to check your window and door seals, locks, hinges, and hardware regularly to ensure that there are no failing mechanisms and gaps where drafts can pass through. Or even that the rain could penetrate through causing a leak and potentially damp issues in the future. Regular maintenance, especially before the winter months, will ensure that your structure stays in good working order and maintains its energy efficiency.
7. Heating installation
To meet building regulations it is necessary to include a form of independently controlled heating system for your orangery or conservatory. There are lots of options available, one of which is to connect radiators with thermostat control to your central heating system, this will need building regulations approval as well as good insulation in your extension to ensure there is no risk of the pipes freezing in winter. Electric radiators are cheaper and easier to install and can be turned on and off when the room isn’t in use but they are often more costly to run. Underfloor heating will command a larger budget and is more involved to install but is highly efficient and often the cheapest way to heat your room long-term. It will be a good task to research which heating systems would work best with the design of the room, your needs, your budget, and the level of energy efficiency they offer. Often paying a little more for your heating system will save you a lot of money on your ongoing bills.
8. Blinds or window treatments
Another option to upgrade the energy efficiency of your glass space would be to add an additional barrier between the glass and the room to keep the heat in for longer and keep the cold out. This would be in the form of conservatory blinds or other soft window treatments. There are various styles and designs available for both the windows and the roof. The type you choose will dictate the look and style of the interior of the room and the cost will vary, but it may be a cheaper and simpler upgrade to your conservatory than some of the other options. To make the most of your blinds and their thermal retaining properties, it is recommended that you open them during the day to allow the sunlight to penetrate and warm up the room and then close them in the evening to keep the heat in. Adding this additional barrier will also make the room feel cosy at night and can help to reduce the glare of the sun in the warmer months.
Design or upgrade to an energy-efficient glass extension
Your glass room should be able to be enjoyed all year round and with the right glass, insulation, heating, and blinds, you will be able to enjoy your space come rain or shine. Making an investment in the right materials at the point of design and build is ideal and will set you up for an enjoyable comfortable space for many years to come. However, you can still upgrade an existing structure to be just as energy efficient prolonging the life of your glass room and ensuring you can stay warm while enjoying your conservatory in the winter. If you would like more advice on designing or upgrading to an energy-efficient space, our specialists will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide you with options and costs.