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Having a conservatory in your home, whether it’s part of an extension you built yourself or perhaps it was one of the reasons you bought your current home, can be seen as a bit of a luxury. In fact, adding a conservatory is one of the smartest renovations you can do as it is thought to increase the sale price of a property by five percent on average. Additional benefits are that they look lovely, can give you a beautiful view of your surroundings and give you extra space that can make all the difference to how you use your home.
But conservatories are often neglected completely in the winter months because they are seen to be too difficult and expensive to heat because of their glass walls and high ceilings. But imagine being able to have a cosy conservatory all year long that won’t cost you the earth to keep warm.
Most people who go to the trouble of building a conservatory in their homes forget that they are basically made out of glass that drains the heat out of your home when they are not being used unless they are being heated all year round.
Heating your conservatory properly means that the space is no longer a non-functioning room in the wintertime and can be as cosy as on a summer’s day in the depths of winter. So, extend your home into that room made of glass that otherwise seems obsolete in the winter.
Conservatories are usually quicker and less expensive to build than full on extensions and usually don’t require the same level of planning permission. Having a well insulated conservatory is where you want to start off to then know what your heating needs are.
However, some people tend to make the mistake of scrimping on the quality of the glass used to keep costs down and then regret the lack of insulation which in the long run costs more on heating bills. Heat escapes significantly faster through double glazed conservatory windows than through conventional cavity walls. Using the best thermally efficient materials are just as important as the materials used to build your actual home.
Conservatories have come a long way from being used as just somewhere nice to sit in the summer for your afternoon tea, many people are using them as home gyms, playrooms and more recently as home offices, which makes a lot of sense when you think of all that natural light and added space.
Heating a conservatory has always been seen as problem in the winter but bear in mind that heating solutions have also come a long way in recent times and energy efficient options are available and are not as costly as you may think. So don’t let heating come in the way of how you can use your conservatory all year round, regardless of the weather outside.
Let’s take a look at what your best conservatory heating options are.
Extending your existing central heating system into the conservatory is sometimes not that straightforward. Building Regulations approval is most often needed, so for this reason most people opt for an electric heating solution that is easy to install with no plumbing needed, doesn’t need approval and is relatively inexpensive to run.
There are many different types of electric heaters (electric fan heaters, convection heaters, oil-filled electric radiators, storage heaters and glass panel heaters, infrared heating panels) and not all are suited to being used in a conservatory and the reasons are outlined below.
Electric heaters can be either those that use heat transfer by convection where the air is heated (such as heater fans, radiators or oil filled radiators) or radiant heaters such as infrared heaters that radiate heat energy to objects in the direct line of sight of the heater.
The downside to running some traditional electric radiators is that they are not the most energy efficient and as they work by convection, heating the air, they take a long time to heat an entire conservatory and a lot of this heat is lost rather quickly when the warm air hit the cold window glass and begins to cool down again.
Portable electric heaters, either fan heaters or oil filled, are quick and convenient but they are not designed to run over long periods of time- they offer short term solutions but this then means that you are not likely to use your conservatory as often as you might if say the heating needed very little lead up time, was energy efficient from the moment it is turned on and isn’t affected by heat loss concerns. Infrared heaters tick all the boxes for a conservatory heating solution because it works differently.
But first let’s go through some electric heaters you may have considered for your conservatory heating solutions in more detail:
Fan heaters are usually small and portable, and most suitable for use in smaller spaces where heat is needed quickly but they are not ideal for prolonged use. They can be noisy, and the heat produced is lost quickly once the heater is turned off, so not very effective for long term use. Fan heaters have one of the highest running costs per hour so not a long-term solution for your conservatory.
Oil filled radiators. A portable space heater that works by radiation and convection and are great for long lasting heat because they retain a lot of heat but they can take a while to heat up. They are designed for use in small spaces so if your conservatory is on the larger size then you may need a few radiators. Oil filled radiators are considered relatively energy efficient if used in moderation and are very low maintenance.
Electric radiators. Electric radiators are quick to heat up, produce heat on demand and distribute it around the room by convection, maintaining a good average temperature throughout the space. Most modern electric radiators have a much greater functionality allowing you to manage your heating using built in thermostats and are fully programmable. They are easy to install and are low maintenance and don’t require any existing pipework to be extended or modified. but are not considered the most energy efficient because they have very high wattage per heat provided.
Infrared heaters are a radiant type of heater that don’t use air to transport heat, instead heat is transferred through FAR infrared waves that transfer heat directly to objects in front of it, heating furnishings as well as solid objects including the people in the room. This works in the same way we feel the heat from the sun, which is also infrared, outside on a winter’s day. The heat produced is not affected by drafts, so an open window or door won’t lead to significant heat loss.
Infrared heating is cost effective because you only use them when and where they are needed, by simply switching them on like you would a light. There is very little lead up time as you don’t need to pre-heat the room as you would with any other electric heater.
Infrared heaters are very useful in rooms that would normally be considered too large for convection heating because it would simply take too long and too much energy to heat (warehouses, churches, rooms with high ceilings)- and a conservatory also falls into this category where heat loss is usually quite high due to the sheer amount of glass. Infrared heating is also ideal for rooms with influx of air flow from the outside (garages, outdoor seating areas, open warehouses etc) because infrared heating isn’t affected by drafts or open doors as it doesn’t rely on heating the air in that space.
Infrared heating panels are available in many different styles and sizes that become an integral part of the décor, including wall-mounted heating panels, mirror heating panels, picture heating panels, sleek glass heating panels, or designer furnishings that hang from the ceiling doubling up as light fixtures. Wall-mounted panels can be placed at picture height so you don’t have to compromise on where to place your furniture if space is a premium.
Having a conservatory in your home is a huge advantage, they are usually beautiful spaces, have amazing views and can add some serious square footage to your home. Keeping your conservatory warm all year round however may seem like an impossible or expensive task but by using the best technology available and taking a long-term view, you will find yourself with a whole new part of your house that is inviting even in the depths of winter. Ensuring you have good insulation and are using efficient heating solutions such as infrared heating will allow you to create a living space that is well worth the investment.