Making your conservatory more energy efficient means reducing your reliance on electric appliances to warm and cool the space.
Conservatories lose most of their heat through a poorly insulated roof, usually made from polycarbonate or glazing. This also works the other way in direct sunlight, trapping heat and making your conservatory too warm.
Solving the roof problem is the best thing you can do to make your conservatory more energy inefficient than filling cavity walls, installing thermal blinds, and upgrading old windows to A-rated double glazing.
Upgrade to a solid roof
This article explores how to make a conservatory more energy efficient, starting with a solid roof before jumping into less effective options.
Unfortunately, if your conservatory has a polycarbonate roof, you have the most inefficient type of conservatory roof ever made.
Polycarbonate provides no thermal barrier, letting heat escape nearly instantly and allowing sunlight to warm up your space the same.
Glazing is better but not perfect because the inner panes of glass absorb the heat generated internally and transmit it to the cooler outside panes via conduction. Although it is a slower process, the result is the same as polycarbonate.
Another problem with glazed conservatory roofs is a loss in thermal efficiency over time due to seal degradation, bead movement, and hinge wear and tear with skylights. These defects let heat escape and allow cold air to rush in.
A solid roof solves all these problems because it is fully insulated.
For example, the Leka solid roof is insulated with PIR sheets or EPS polystyrene with additional products that enhance thermal efficiency further, like airtight seals, air gaps, and insulated outer sheets that reject conduction through tiles.
The result is a conservatory roof that does not let heat escape and one that rejects heat from the sun to keep your space cool in summer.
Simply put, a solid conservatory roof provides a substantial thermal barrier that works both ways to correctly regulate the temperature of your space. A solid conservatory roof has the same insulative effects as a solid roof on your home.
Insulate the floor
Another way to improve your conservatory’s energy efficiency is to insulate the floor, especially if it is noticeably cold.
Insulating a conservatory floor is done by fitting an insulation board over the existing floor or installing insulation between the boards and the subfloor.
One of the most significant advantages of insulating the floor is installing electric underfloor heating, which can heat your entire space efficiently.
It’s crucial to note that up to 20% of conservatory heat loss occurs through floors, and more than 50% occurs through a glazed roof or polycarbonate roof.
By upgrading to a solid roof and insulating your floor, you can improve the energy efficiency of your conservatory by around 70%.
Upgrade to A-rated glazing
If your conservatory windows and doors were installed more than ten years ago, they are probably 30% less efficient than today’s products. That number would jump to around 50% if the units were installed more than 20 years ago.
Innovations in glazing, such as Warm Edge Technology, which reduces the thermal interaction between multi-panes of glass, the window frame, and the spacer to reduce heat transfer, have improved things further.
Before upgrading your conservatory glazing, find out what energy rating your windows are. If the U-value is C to G, upgrading to A-rated windows is a no-brainer, with energy savings of up to 50% available instantly.
If your windows are rated A to B, there is no significant benefit to upgrading unless your windows are no longer working as intended. For example, replacement (or repair) is the best option if the hinges no longer create a tight seal.
Thermal blinds can help slow down the rate of heat loss by keeping a portion of your conservatory’s warmth from the glazing. This will keep your conservatory at a comfortable temperature for longer, but only to a point.
The warm air that bounces off the blinds will eventually find its way behind them, fuelling conductive heat loss between warm and cold glass panes. Simply put, the blinds won’t keep your conservatory warm for long.
The same applies to keeping the sun out – thermal/blackout blinds can reject a portion of the sun’s energy but won’t stop the greenhouse effect entirely.
Conservatory blinds are expensive products, and only some are satisfied with them. Ask yourself: will blinds make your space more enjoyable? For some, faffing around with them – and cleaning dust off them – is enough to say no.
There are four primary ways to make your conservatory more energy efficient:
- Upgrade to a solid insulated roof.
- Insulate the floor.
- Upgrade to A-rated glazing.
- Install thermal blinds (as a stopgap to other solutions).
The best combination is a solid roof + floor insulation, but if you only do one thing, invest in a solid roof to replace your glazed/polycarbonate one.