Whether you already have a conservatory or are thinking of getting one installed in the future, keeping a conservatory warm in winter is a common topic of discussion for many homeowners who have them.
A conservatory is a fantastic addition to any home. It brings the outdoors indoors and provides a space that enables you to enjoy natural light and your surrounding garden all year round. However, in the winter months, when temperatures drop, it can become a challenging task to maintain a comfortable environment in a conservatory, and it can be too chilly to sit in! This is a headache for many conservatory owners, but with a few tips and tricks, it can be avoided.

A well-insulated conservatory acts as a barrier against the external cold, preventing heat from escaping. In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of insulation materials available and provide tips on retaining heat. Whether you have a glass or polycarbonate roof on your conservatory, we’ll give you guidance on energy-efficient solutions that may work. We’ll also take you through other heating options – from traditional central heating to more modern solutions like underfloor heating and electric heaters. Every option has its pros and cons, depending on your needs and budget.

Interior decoration ideas and making the most of natural sunlight is another way to keep your conservatory warm in winter. From insulating rugs and cushions to insulated curtains and blinds, we’ll take you through some options that will help you transform your space so that your conservatory continues to be used even during the coldest of winters.

Why do conservatories get cold in winter?

As the winter chill sets in, conservatories become notorious for their icy temperatures, making them uncomfortable to sit in during the cold months of winter. Understanding why conservatories get so cold in winter is important so that steps can be taken to improve the way they retain and trap heat. Here are some of the main reasons why your conservatory can be cold in winter.

1. A lack of effective insulation

Insulation (or a lack of it), is probably the main culprit behind cold temperatures in a conservatory. If you have a traditional conservatory, you’ll likely have a large glass or polycarbonate panel roof and/or sides that provide great views of the garden and allow plenty of natural light to pass through.

That said, these materials are not very effective at retaining heat. Glass and polycarbonate have poor insulating properties, so they tend to lose greater quantities of heat. A lack of proper insulation can lead to high energy bills as you struggle to heat the conservatory (only to find that most of this heat escapes).

2. Only having single-glazed windows

Many older conservatories have thin glazing or single-glazed windows, which cause a great amount of heat loss compared to other options like double or triple glazing. Single-glazed windows cause the cold to penetrate the glass, which in turn leads to the interior temperature of the conservatory dropping to lower figures.

3. Having an exposed framework

The metal framework of a conservatory is often exposed, and the metal frames can conduct heat outwards, making the space inside much colder.

4. Gaps and draughts that aren’t sealed

If effective insulation isn’t used, gaps and draughts may become greater, allowing cold air to filter into the conservatory in greater quantities, making the space inside colder. If this problem isn’t addressed, the conservatory will also become harder to heat over time.

5. The position of the conservatory

Where a conservatory is located is important for it to make the most of natural daylight and sunshine. This can have a great effect on its temperature. North-facing conservatories receive less direct sunlight and are more susceptible to cold. South-facing ones get more heat, especially in the summer.

6. A poor heating setup

If a conservatory doesn’t have an effective heating system, it will be very difficult to keep it warm. This will not only make the conservatory uncomfortable to use, but will also mean poor energy efficiency and/or higher heating bills.

Ways to keep a conservatory warmer

With these few handy tips, you can easily transform your conservatory into a structure that stays warm and comfortable during the cold winter months – here’s how.

How to keep a conservatory warm Homebrite

Upgrade your insulation

As mentioned, this is one of the major ways that conservatories lose heat. The first step is to look at your glazing. If it’s single-glazed, it will be giving you poor insulation and lots of heat will be escaping through the thin panes of glass. Install double or even triple-glazed windows to improve thermal efficiency and to reduce heat loss.

Triple glazing in particular is great for preventing heat from escaping. If this is not within your budget and replacing the entire glazing is not feasible, consider adding window films. You can purchase window films that, when applied directly to glass, help to trap heat and reduce draughts. You can also invest in secondary glazing, which creates an additional layer of insulation without altering the windows.

Another way to add extra insulation is to purchase thermal blinds or curtains. This provides a protective barrier over the windows and helps to prevent heat loss through window draughts. You should also seal any gaps or draughts around doors and windows, as this will make any insulation you have even more effective. Also, check vents for gaps and seal them up. Draught excluders are a very cheap way of minimising cold airflow.

Next, check that your roof is properly insulated. Older conservatories can now have specially designed roof panels installed onto glass or polycarbonate roofing to prevent heat from escaping at the top of the conservatory. A tiled conservatory roof can also help regulate the temperature, keeping heat in during the winter and preventing the conservatory from overheating in the summer.

Insulating the conservatory ceiling inside can also significantly reduce heat loss. There are various conservatory insulation kits available that can give an extra layer of insulation to the roof.

Invest in better heating solutions

Underfloor heating is a great way to provide even distribution of heat across your conservatory. Underfloor heating can be installed as either a wet system (connected to the central heating), or as electric heating mats.

Although it is quite an outlay financially, and your flooring will typically need to be dug up and changed, underfloor heating only needs to be operated at low temperatures to make a space very warm, saving you money on energy bills in the long term while reducing energy consumption. Compared to radiators, underfloor heating uses 15-40% less energy. [1]

It’s possible to purchase underfloor heating panels in a variety of tiled, wood effect and carpet finishes. Another cheaper option is to install electric heaters, which are freestanding and can be moved around to where warmth is needed most. They are simple to install, and more energy-efficient models have adjustable settings for more control.

Other, more simple solutions are installing modern, wall-hung radiators in places that need more heat, or installing a smart thermostat in your conservatory. A smart thermostat will allow you to programme heating schedules and remotely control the temperature of your conservatory from your phone, improving energy efficiency in the conservatory and ensuring it is warm when you need it to be. For instance, you can programme the heating system to come on before you plan to use the conservatory in the morning.

Consider the thermal mass of your conservatory

Consider incorporating thermal mass elements into your conservatory design. Speak to your architect or conservatory builder, but materials like stone, brick, and tile floors have high thermal mass, which means they can store heat and release it slowly, which helps to keep your conservatory warmer in winter.

Choose a design that will make the most of natural sunlight, which will also warm the thermal mass elements. They will then release heat throughout the conservatory later in the day. You can also take advantage of natural sunlight by keeping blinds and curtains open during daylight hours.

Get practical with furniture

Avoid placing furniture near radiators, as this may prevent heat from coming into the conservatory effectively. To add an extra layer of insulation onto the conservatory floor, choose high-pile rugs and thick soft furnishings, and choose thickened or insulated curtains to retain heat in the room. You may also want to choose sofas, chairs and other furniture that is comfortable to sit on even in cooler temperatures.

Allow ventilation

This may seem counter-intuitive, but allowing good air ventilation will also help to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your conservatory. Open windows and vents only when you need to, as this will prevent you from losing too much heat.

Monitor the humidity level in your conservatory to assess how much ventilation you need, and to prevent damp and moisture build-up, which can make a conservatory colder in winter.

Other tips

Some other considerations for keeping your conservatory warm include:

  • Opening the doors leading to the conservatory (if it connects to other rooms), in order to keep the heat from your home directed at the conservatory.
  • Using a curtain door across the main conservatory door to stop the heat from escaping.
  • Bleeding radiators and making sure that your central heating system is serviced, repaired, and checked regularly for leaks and clogged filters, etc.

Sources

[1] https://www.idealhome.co.uk/property-advice/how-efficient-is-underfloor-heating-298556