Being able to use your new space all year long is one of the best reasons to invest in a four season sunroom. This extra room in your house attaches to your home’s existing heating system meaning that you can sit and relax in your sunroom all winter long, unlike the three season rooms which you need to close up when the temperatures start to drop. This additional room will add to your heating bills during the colder months, which is to be expected when you expand your home; however, it can become very costly as the high ceilings and large number of windows can make your sunroom use heat very inefficiently.
3 small ways to make your sunroom energy efficient
Making your sunroom more energy efficient will take some time and money to achieve. For some people, a tight budget and a lack of time (or the worry of elongated disruption) can put them off making energy efficient changes to their sunroom. However, there are some simple ways to make some savings on your sunroom heating bills:
- Seal the frames – most of the heat loss that happens in a four season sunroom is through the windows and the external doors. While most modern sunrooms come with double, or even triple, glazed windows for maximum heat loss prevention, you should aim to seal all the frames in the sunroom as the weather starts to change each year. This is a simple afternoon job with a caulk gun and clear sealant available from any hardware store.
- Tint the windows – while you’ll want to keep your windows as see through as possible to get the best views, adding a slight tint to them will block UV rays entering the room and prevent radiant heat energy from leaving it. Look in particular for window coverings with a “low-E” rating to get the best efficiency – these tints will also help to protect your soft furnishings from fading due to sunlight exposure.
- Add a rug and curtains – the small way to reduce your sunroom heating bills is less to do with preventing heat escaping and more to do with trapping heat in. Putting a thick rug down and a set of heavy curtains up on each window will keep the room warm, and will trap any residual heat from the day through most of the evening. This will keep your finger away from the thermostat and allow you to make use of the natural heating properties of your sunroom. These soft furnishings could be seasonal and could be put in storage when springtime rolls around.
These are all projects that can be achieved on a modest budget and at most, completing them would take a weekend out of your time. It will take a year or so for the energy savings outlined above to pay for themselves as you’ll achieve modest energy savings.
3 big ways to make your sunroom energy efficient
While these steps will help reduce your energy bills once your sunroom is built, there are some bigger energy saving steps to take that should probably be factored in during the design stage of your sunroom planning. These will be more costly than simple cosmetic changes but should go a long way to dramatically reducing the amount of energy your sunroom uses. Some big ways to save on your energy bills include:
- Wall insulation – even in your sunroom, there is a small gap between the external and internal walls. This is intended to prevent moisture from entering your home as well as providing a small layer of air insulation. By choosing to fill this gap with high quality foam or fibreglass insulation, you’ll find that much more warmth gets trapped by your walls and reduces the need to keep the room artificially heated. If you’re completing this project once the sunroom has been built, you can find experts who will spray fill the inside of your walls and patch the entrance holes.
- Underfloor preparation – another way that heat gets lost in your sunroom is through the floor. While a rug or carpet will help to trap some of the heat, underfloor insulation will boost their effectiveness. Again, you have the choice of rigid foam or softer polyester insulation, but you’ll only notice the difference if you have thinner wooden floorboards that flex slightly as you walk on them. This is an easy project to complete as you’re laying the floorboards for the first time; if you’re doing it once you’ve been living in the sunroom for a while you’ll have to factor in the cost and time needed to remove and replace the flooring.
- Lower ceiling height – it’s clear to see that it’s easier to heat smaller contained spaces than bigger ones. Small rooms have less air circulating which in turn requires less energy to heat up. However, many people choose to have a gabled or A frame roof for their sunroom which are much harder to heat as the hot air rises and gets trapped in the upper part of the ceiling. You can reduce this by bringing the ceiling height down so it sits flat with the top of the walls. It’s possible to have a flat internal roof and keep the pointed gable outside; this will simply give you some attic storage space above your sunroom.
It is possible to complete a lesser version of these changes once your sunroom is built but the costs will go up making it a longer time before you’re truly saving money overall. It will be essential to talk with your Desert Sun Patio contractors if you’re planning any of these bigger energy efficiencies.
Consider Alternative Heating Sources
All of these cosmetic changes will reduce the amount of fuel you need to use, but you can go one step further by considering other ways to heat your sunroom. If you have a four season sunroom, it’s likely that you’ll have connected the room to your existing HVAC system, but that doesn’t mean that you have to install heaters or radiators and use your home’s fuel source to heat your sunroom. For many homeowners, it’s actually cheaper to have an separate heating system for your sunroom, and these options could be a great way to save money in the long run:
- Wood burning stove – this is not only a great way to heat your sunroom but a classic look for sunroom owners. You can get an incredible amount of heat from a relatively small stove, and there’s something incredibly intimate and romantic about the flames and smell of a wood burning stove. This is a great option if you have access to a steady supply of seasoned firewood, and the amount of heat you’ll pump out will easily heat adjacent rooms saving you even more money.
- Pellet stove – if finding a regular supply of firewood is difficult or expensive, a pellet stove may be the right choice for heating your sunroom. It looks and feels like a wood burning stove, but is fueled by wood pellets that are fed into the burner at a pre-determined rate. While the bags of pellets are more expensive kilo for kilo than stacks of firewood, you can control the amount that gets used, and it’s considerable to turn on and off than having to stoke a fire and tend to the embers.
- Electric space heater – this final option is a great idea if you also invest in solar panels for your sunroom (and indeed the rest of your house!). You will effectively turn sunshine into heat for your sunroom, and you won’t pay a cent for any heat that you produce this way when it’s sunny. You can extend the benefits even further if you install a solar power battery pack so you can use the stored electricity into the evenings. While this is a big initial investment, you’ll quickly save money with the drastic reduction in your heating bills.
Of course, it’s also possible to just rely on the sun’s heat and the natural insulation of the glass windows to keep your room at a comfortable temperature during the daylight hours. However, this means that you won’t realistically be able to use your sunroom on cloudy cold days or in the evenings, so investing in a heat source works well. For either of the two stoves, you’ll need to talk with your Desert Sun Patios sunroom consultant about where they can be placed as you’ll need to vent them outside as well as thinking about where to store the fuel.
Reducing the amount of heating fuel you need to keep your sunroom open all winter long isn’t just good for your bank balance; it’s a great way to help the environment too. Many sunroom owners find that the changes they put in place to make their sunroom more energy efficient can be applied to the rest of the home, resulting in a greener, and lower cost, home.