Adding a self build conservatory to your home is considered to be the most cost effective route to extending your permanent living space. Not only are conservatories cheaper to construct than a brick built home extension they often don’t require planning permission and can be built in days rather than weeks.
However if you require your new living space to be usable all year round it is very important that you carefully check the specification of the conservatory you are about to purchase to ensure that it will provide additional space that can actually be used throughout the year.
There are many suppliers of self build conservatories including some leading DIY stores but unfortunately many of them still supply conservatories that are manufactured with little or no thought to energy efficiency. The basic specifications of these cheap conservatories are designed to keep the cost down so their products appeal to consumers buying on price alone.
However many of these cheap conservatories will actually prove to be uninhabitable in the winter because they will be too expensive to heat due to high levels of heat loss through the roof and side frame glazing. In the summer the internal living space can become so hot that they just cannot be tolerated with temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees centigrade in a south facing conservatory.
As most conservatories are still exempt from compliance with current building regulations there is no statutory requirement to ensure that they meet acceptable levels of thermal efficiency unlike most other home improvements. It is therefore important to be aware that if you want to make full use of your new conservatory throughout the year consideration must be given to the thermal performance of the new living space.
The two most important factors that will determine the thermal efficiency of your new room will be the type of roof glazing and also the type of glazing fitted to the windows and door that make up the side frames of the conservatory.
Polycarbonate roof glazing used to be the major choice for conservatory roofs and although it is still popular due mainly to it’s lower cost there has been a huge growth in the number of conservatories featuring glass roofs, particularly solar control glazing.
If you do intend to select a polycarbonate roof for your new conservatory ensure you specify 35mm thickness which currently offers the best performance levels of performance available. There are many suppliers who will still provide a 25mm thick polycarbonate roof because it is the cheapest option but the thermal and noise insulation values of the 35mm range are far superior for the small cost increase that is usually required.
A glass roof will increase thermal and noise insulation properties considerably whilst also allowing natural light to flood into your new living space. Most conservatory roof glass options are now available with self clean coatings that use rain water and daylight to help keep the glass clean which is especially useful for unreachable areas of the roof.
Solar control glass roofs are particularly important for conservatories that are likely to be exposed to direct sunlight as they are designed to reflect solar heat and help to maintain a comfortable climate inside the conservatory whilst also blocking UV rays that can damage flooring and furnishings. There are numerous solar control glass roof options available, some will have a pronounced tint and others virtually no tint so there is ample choice for whatever your specific requirements.
The largest heat loss potential in any conservatory will usually be through the roof so as well as protecting you from the sun in the warmer months of the year it is also important to ensure that the double glazing is thermally efficient in retaining your heat in the winter months and should have a 1.2 U-value or less.
SIDE FRAME GLAZING
The double glazing used in the windows and doors of your new conservatory should be argon filled heat retaining glass to help ensure maximum thermal efficiency. However there are many glass options available and it is important to understand the technical differences between them and how the correct glazing will help maintain a comfortable climate inside to ensure year round use.
Most heat retaining glass is designed to capture free solar heat gain to help heat your home. Using this type of glass in the side frames of your new conservatory would be beneficial for the colder months of the year as it will obviously help heat the living space. However during the summer months this type of glass will continue to allow solar gain and the resulting increase in temperatures could make the room unusable on hot summer days.
However recent advances in glass technology mean that it is now possible to specify a neutral tint solar control 1.1 U-value double glazing for the side frames of the conservatory that will actually help to reflect solar heat in the summer whilst during the winter it will help retain your valuable heat providing the ultimate conservatory glazing solution.