A conservatory can be a great addition to your home giving you much needed extra space. But if you intend to use this space throughout the year, you will have to consider some way of heating your conservatory.
There are a number of different ways to heat a conservatory, and most of the common heating methods are covered below. It is worth mentioning that if you are going to heat the room, you should also pay attention to the amount of heat that is lost from the conservatory. Energy efficient glazing and good insulation will help to reduce heat loss and lower heating bills.
Why heat a conservatory?
The benefit of a conservatory is that the glass roof and walls allow in much more of the sun’s light and heat; but this also creates a very specific environment.
The humidity levels are much higher in a conservatory, and the temperature can rise and fall very quickly.
If the room is to be used regularly, perhaps as a breakfast room, or a separate lounge in the evening, then it will need to be heated to maintain a moderate temperature during the winter.
Other reasons might include the furniture in the room; upholstery can be damaged by cold and damp conditions during winter. Or the use of the conservatory; sub-tropical plants may require
a certain temperature to survive the cold British winter.
Different types of conservatory heating:
If you want to know how to heat a conservatory, there are several options listed below. It’s worth thinking about the long term use of your conservatory, as some types of heating are much more expensive than others.
Central heating system
It is possible to install conservatory radiators and connect them to your existing central heating system. You might think this is the best way to heat a conservatory (at least in terms of running costs), but building regulations do state that the conservatory should be under a different thermostatic control to the rest of the house. Estimates from whatprice.co.uk based on 2KW of heat and a tariff of 12p per unit, suggest running costs are around nine pence per hour.
Night storage heaters
Night storage heaters are another way of heating a conservatory, and can be cheap to run as they cost around 7-9p per hour to heat up during the night. The disadvantage is that they are quite costly to install, and can cost 24p per hour if used during the day to boost the heat.
Fan heaters are very cheap to buy and can be moved around the conservatory to suit. They are expensive to run however, at 24p per hour, and can also be very noisy.
Electric panel heaters can also be used as conservatory heaters, costing around £150 they are freestanding and of slim design. They are not the most efficient of heaters, costing 24p per hour to run.
Oil filled radiators
Oil filled radiators are another option for conservatory heating, but again one of the more costly methods. They are not particularly slim and can be quite heavy, with a similar running cost of 24p per hour.
Air source heat pump
Heat pumps are often used to produce heated water for underfloor heating systems, and when working efficiently can produce four units of heat for every one unit of electricity used.
Air source heat pumps can be used with underfloor heating, and can also be used to blow warm air into a room. Although they can cost over a thousand pounds to install, they have a very low running cost of around 6p per hour.
Ground source heat pump
Ground source heat pumps extract their heat from the ground rather than the air and can work more effectively in very cold weather as more heat is retained in the ground. They are also very expensive to install, but come with the same low running costs of 6p per hour.
A wet underfloor system consists of a network of pipes, which are laid underneath the flooring of the conservatory. Hot water is circulated through the pipes to heat the floor surface and the heat radiates into the room. A wet system can be connected to an existing central heating system, or installed with a heat pump. Underfloor heating is particularly energy efficient as it produces radiant heat, which is lost to atmosphere much slower than heat produced by convection from radiators. When used in conjunction with a heat pump, underfloor heating will cost 6p per hour to run.
There are several different ways of heating a conservatory in winter, and it is important to weigh up the costs of installation as well as the typical running costs of the heating once installed. A ground source heat pump and an underfloor heating system is probably the most energy efficient way to heat a conservatory, but the installation costs will run into thousands. If you are only using the conservatory sparingly or only use the heating for one or two hours a day during winter, it may be more sensible to buy a cheap panel heater. The money you save on the initial installation will offset the extra running costs for many years.
If you are in the process of planning a conservatory, you will almost certainly have to consider heating. If you intend to use the room all year round, it is essential. There are a variety of different ways to heat the room and you can spend as little or as much as you like on a heating system.
It pays to think about how you will use the room when it is finished to help you select the best type of heating. If you want the conservatory to be warm first thing in the morning, and you intend to use the heating throughout the day during winter, you should look at systems with low running costs; and be prepared to allocate more of your budget for the installation of the system.