More and more people like the idea of using their conservatory as an all year round space, not just for when the sun shines and the weather is warmer. In order to get the best use of a conservatory all year round, it’s important to not only be able to heat it but to insulate it, too.
Without proper insulation of the walls, ceiling and floor, your heating bills will be expensive and you’ll still probably have a chilly conservatory during the colder months.
Obviously it helps if you’re thinking about insulation at the beginning of your conservatory construction as it’s far easier to build insulation measures into the structure. If not, then it’s harder, but not impossible, to fit insulation retrospectively.
It’s estimated that at least 15% of heat is lost through the conservatory floor. Basic insulation can be put in – for example, a thicker underlay can be used in place of the present one if you have a carpet.
A more advanced option is to lift the existing floor entirely and put in insulation boards such as those available from Kingspan and Celotex. This is the best form of insulation and needs to be installed before the concrete floor is laid. The same insulation method can be seen in single story extensions and it complies with current British building regulations.
If you already have a conservatory, you can add thinner boards above the concrete layer. A lot will depend on the height you have to play with in terms of how high the doors are from the floor.
If you have a suspended timber floor over a concrete base, then the cavity can be filled with insulation material such as polystyrene boards.
If your conservatory has a dwarf wall – the small wall from the ground to where the windows start – then insulating it is worthwhile just as you may have insulated the walls of your house. A cavity wall specialist can do this.
Hot air rises, so inevitably a lot of heat is lost through the roof. There are various options for insulating your conservatory roof from basic overlapping blinds to an entire re-roof if your present roof is simply too old to try other types of insulation.
Shiplap UPVC is an attractive overlapping internal ceiling blind-type system and can be fitted in about a day (watch this YouTube video). It provides a flexible insulation and blind system that keeps rising heat in during the winter, and stops the space becoming too hot in the summer and reduces glare.
Plaster – if done properly, this is an effective, breathable insulation system with venting to stop any condensation build up. It’s finished off plaster that can be decorated to suit. Like the shiplap UPVC option, it will stop heat escaping and reduce excessive sunlight.
New roof – the drastic option, but sometimes the best one if the present roof is too weak insulation-wise. A new roof from a competent contractor will blend in with the style of the existing conservatory and have a modern, effective insulation system built in.
Doors and windows
Don’t forget how heat can be lost through these. If starting from scratch, then modern windows and doors with good insulation properties will pay dividends. It may be worth considering triple glazed windows, and if your windows are particularly old, replacement might be an option.
Doors make a big difference – if nothing else, a door leading to the outside may need upgrading if its security properties aren’t up to date.
Cost versus reward
Of course, the cost of upgrading your existing conservatory to make it more comfortable has to be balanced against the money you’d save on heating, and the benefits of being able to use the conservatory more often throughout the year.
If you’re building a conservatory from new, unlike the insulation requirements for a new build including an extension, insulation measures aren’t subject to building controls. It’s very much up to you how much insulation you build in, but the more you invest in the more enjoyment you’ll gain from your conservatory.
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If your conservatory is too cold, contact Mark Caulfield, founder of The Caulfield Conservatory Co., to discuss how you can improve or upgrade your conservatory.