Is your Conservatory Too Cold?
Older style conservatories made from either single-glazing or polycarbonate panels are well known for being too hot in the summer and far too cold in the winter. If your conservatory is too cold then there are plenty of things you can do to change it, ranging from small and inexpensive to some quite major conservatory refurbishment.
Why are many old-style conservatories too cold?
The main reason that many conservatories are too cold is that they are made of materials that do not offer efficient thermal regulation and this also causes overheating in the summer months. Usually, these structures are built of inefficient double glazed panels or polycarbonate but some very old conservatories are made from single-glazing which has barely any thermal regulation capacity at all.
If you are used to a conservatory that feels like a fridge from late autumn to the following spring then there are things you can do about it. Here are some simple suggestions to heat your cold conservatory that will suit every budget.
- Use heaters on a timer or controlled by a remote app to heat the room before you go in it. Extending the central heating from the main house is usually the most economic way to do this. Electric radiators are a popular alternative and are easily portable or an electric fan heater which can give the room a quick boost and take the chill off. Infrared heaters throw out heat which can be absorbed by the floor and the furniture and warm the whole room but they are quite expensive to run
- Luxurious soft furnishings and rugs can help to create a cosy feel
- Fit window blinds or curtains which will help retain heat in the room when it has been sunny – this is one of the easiest ways to reduce heat loss
- Focus on the floor, there is nothing worse than cold tiles. Install underfloor heating which will create a beautifully warm feel, ideal if you are using the room as a kids’ playroom. Use rugs or a carpet to take the chill away from cold ceramic or wooden floors. Underfloor heating can be retro-fitted, choose either a wet or dry system. Underfloor heating provides a luxurious pervading warmth quite different from conventional heating options
- Check the source of any draughts. As well as being poor thermal regulators, older style conservatories are often prone to draughty gaps – it’s partly due to their age but also because the frames are not as sophisticated and well-fitting as more modern alternatives – heating a draughty room is a waste of time and money
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation – damp will drive down the temperature in any room but if the conservatory is too cold then the temptation is not to open windows or air vents. A dehumidifier will help control damp but it is better to find the source and treat the problem
For some people, one or more of these options will solve the problem of a conservatory that is too cold but for others, they are just not enough and more significant steps need to be taken.
There are two other options when it comes to conservatory that is too cold and these are:-
- Insulate the conservatory roof
- Replace the roof
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Insulating a conservatory roof
For many people, conservatory roof insulation is the easiest way to solve the problem of a conservatory that is always too cold; it doesn’t mean to say you won’t have heating in there but you won’t need as much and the conservatory will retain warmth even when the heating is off.
Roof insulation also solves the problem of a conservatory that becomes too hot in the summer - both problems often go hand in hand.
Conservatory roof insulation is usually made from multiple layers of aluminium foil, wadding, foam and air pockets. Not only will you lose the winter chill but it can also transform your conservatory in the summer months when the brightness and the glare can be just too much to tolerate.
These insulation panels are usually covered with a solid white cladding which not only looks stunning but is specifically designed to create a small air gap between the insulation and the ceiling to increase warmth and prevent condensation. It is possible to retain roof lights or skylights so there is still some element of view to the sky and points at which natural light can come in.
Insulation panels can usually be fitted in a day or just a little longer and the impact will be felt immediately.
Replacing a conservatory roof
New generation materials make replacing a conservatory roof a real option; because many of them are lightweight, you don’t always need to upgrade the frame of the building and you can opt for either new glazing, a solid tiled roof or a hybrid.
Tiled conservatory roofs
Tiled conservatory roofs are very much in vogue at the moment; a solid tiled roof has numerous advantages in addition to great thermal performance which will stop your conservatory from being too cold to be user-friendly.
A tiled room will keep the conservatory warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer with excellent thermal regulation. Other benefits include:-
- A look that creates the appearance of an extension to the main home so the conservatory becomes much more integrated instead of just an add-on
- New lightweight materials mimic the look of tiles or slates and can be fitted to the existing structure in a very short space of time and at a fraction of the cost of the real deal
- Structural upgrades to the frame of the conservatory are frequently not required as modern materials are very lightweight
- A tiled roof offers privacy, ideal if your conservatory is on a new estate and overlooked by other properties or buildings
- A solid tiled roof will reduce noise from the weather – you will notice a real difference compared to glass – and it will also deaden traffic noise and disturbance from adjacent buildings
Solid tile roofs can be retro-fitted to any conservatory regardless of who manufactured or installed the original structure, the only criteria is that the frame is strong enough to support the weight of the new roof. The roof covering can be chosen to complement or contrast with the roof of the main house. A new conservatory roof takes around a week on average from start to finish.
What is a hybrid roof?
A hybrid roof is a perfect solution for a conservatory that is too cold in the winter and for those householders who don’t want to choose the option of a solid tiled roof. A hybrid roof offers the best of both worlds, vaulted roof panels interspersed with glass sections featuring enhanced insulation. Enjoy a warm conservatory with efficient thermal regulation but still have the natural light and sky views that made you opt for a conservatory in the first place. Hybrid roofs are usually bespoke so you can choose how much of the roof is solid and how many and where the window panels will feature.
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What are the advantages of a new conservatory roof?
The main purpose of a new roof is to increase thermal insulation, perfect for a conservatory that is too cold in the winter months but also for a conservatory that is too hot in the summer. However, there are other benefits and these include:-
- Lower energy bills with better thermal regulation
- An increase in privacy particularly for conservatories which are overlooked and where the owner opts for a solid roof
- Reduced noise whether that is rainfall, traffic sounds or disturbance from adjacent buildings
With 21st century materials, there will be a new conservatory roof out there to suit your taste whether you want a fully glazed structure, a solid tiled roof or a hybrid.
Choosing the right solution for your conservatory
If your conservatory is too cold in the winter then your options may depend on how old the conservatory is – you might even go for a full re-build – whether the house is a new purchase or one you intend to put on the market and your taste and of course, your budget. It also depends on how cold the conservatory is and how often you use it.
In recent times, there has been increased pressure on family space but even if you don’t use your conservatory that often, it is a waste of a room if you feel that for several months of the year it is a no-go area.
Solutions range from the quick and easy – a bit of extra portable heating – to more structural changes like insulating the roof or even replacing it.
Finding the right contractor for your conservatory project
If you want to upgrade your conservatory because it is too cold then you can use whoever you like to do the work; you don’t need to go back to the original manufacturer or installer.
More structural works like a new roof will depend on the integrity of the existing frame so if the conservatory is very old or has not been well maintained then you may find some repair work is necessary first.
Choosing the right contractor is very important. Many conservatory firms offer repairs, improvements, upgrades and refurbishments. See if you can get a recommendation from someone you know who has recently had a new conservatory or some work done. Local community groups on social media are also a good source of names and numbers if the person recommending them is not known to you personally then you should always ask to see references. There are verified trader platforms online where a few details like the job and your postcode can bring forward companies in your area who may be ready and willing to take on the work.
Always obtain two or three estimates, this is to help you find the right contractor and will also give you an accurate feeling for the right price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need planning permission to re-roof my conservatory?
Not usually but if your home is situated within a conservation area or is listed then you may need consent to change the conservatory even though the structure itself is not listed but because it is attached to a listed building.
Warming up your conservatory will revolutionise your life, instead of a dank and unwelcoming space, enjoy a room that is warm enough to sit in to relax or entertain, even to work. Forget the chill and all the condensation and enjoy your conservatory as it is meant to be enjoyed.
Are there any hidden costs with re-roofing a conservatory?
If the conservatory is very old then you may need to make upgrades or repairs to the existing frame before the new roof goes on. Always make sure that you have a thorough site visit from your chosen contractor – they should be able to accurately assess the existing building and quote for any repairs that could be required when the old roof is removed. There might be costs associated with waste disposal as well.
Is it better to tackle cold conservatory problems properly or does it not matter?
It depends on how unusable you feel the conservatory is; some people only really notice the chill on very cold days but many older style conservatories are pretty chilly for a large proportion of the year. The other factor to consider is that increasing the heating is not a very environmentally friendly solution to the problem and will seriously impact your energy bills.
The advent of 21st-century materials means it is now possible to upgrade a conservatory into a usable room throughout all the seasons to provide that light, bright living space whether you want to relax, entertain friends or use much-needed space for the family. Don’t live with a conservatory that is too cold, there are multiple options available to make that problem a thing of the past.
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