If you have a conservatory and live in the UK, you probably want to learn how to heat it cheaply. The easiest and cheapest way to heat your greenhouse is to maximize sunlight. After all, it’s cost-free, and it’s effective.
However, there are times of the year when the weather is cloudy or rainy. Also, the amount of sunlight a conservatory receives during the winter season is significantly reduced when it needs it most. However, several methods heat a conservatory without breaking the bank.
Here are three straightforward ways to heat your conservatory:
- Take advantage of the sun and be sure to insulate
- Add Thermal Mass
- Use solar panels
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SUN AND MAKE SURE YOU INSULATE
As mentioned, using the sun naturally is the easiest method – it is a free source of energy and will never fail to provide you with heat. While it is easy to rely on the sun during the summer, it is more difficult for homeowners to receive adequate sun during the winter.
If you have not already built it, place your conservatory in an unshaded area where it will receive plenty of sunlight to make the most of the sun’s heat during the cooler seasons.
It’s best to open all curtains and blinds completely during the day to allow sunlight into your conservatory.
ADD THERMAL MASS
Adding thermal mass to your conservatory is one of the best ways to generate heat without spending a fortune. Thermal mass stores heat during hot weather, and once the weather cools, the mass will slowly release the stored heat.
Some examples of thermal mass include ceramic tile, decorative stones, and heavy, dark materials that store, retain, and slowly release heat during chilly weather.
Dark water barrels are effective at storing heat. When your conservatory temperature drops at night, the water barrels release heat into your space to help keep it warm. Darker stones can also serve as effective natural heaters. They store heat from the sun and release it during cold nights. To make your conservatory even warmer, you can cover the ground with rugs to help retain heat.
Of all the thermal mass options, water barrels have the highest heat capacity. You can add as many thermal mass options to your greenhouse as you prefer for best results. However, consider the climate because the last thing you want is an overheated greenhouse.
USE SOLAR PANELS
Solar panels offer many benefits if you are looking to build a conservatory or already have one and are looking to make it more energy efficient.
In the case of solar panels used to heat the conservatory itself, they can be fitted to a wall, and the heat collected can be regulated in your conservatory by a thermostat.
If using panels to power your home, you can have panels installed on the roof. This could be especially effective if the current roof space on your home is unsuitable for installing a system.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Of course, there are several pros and cons when fitting a solar PV system into a conservatory. If you need the system only to heat the conservatory itself, the best method is installing solar panels fitted to one wall. You can use them for a basic conservatory, larger model, or orangery. However, with the cost of solar panels decreasing by around 80% in the past decade, there’s never been a better time to swap to solar.
Many people find that their conservatory loses heat through the windows and roof, so to keep the room warm most of the year when you need the heat is when the panels may be working at their lowest efficiency.
So on top of the panels, in the case of older conservatories with glass or plastic roofs, you should consider swapping it for a solid roof. This will tremendously help keep the space warm, even on days when sunlight is minimal.
Panels fitted to a solid roof on a sizable conservatory can slash electricity bills and allow you to gain an extra source of income from the Smart Export Guarantee.
As mentioned, the roof must be structurally sound before a solar installation. The panels will not require constant sunlight to work well as even without sun, they take energy from daylight.
However, ideally, the roof should not be overshadowed by anything and should be facing south. An accredited solar panel company can assess the conservatory and they should be able to tell you if your conservatory is a suitable site for an installation.