When it comes to home add-ons, a sunroom enclosure can be one of the most fun. What's not to love about a room that allows you to enjoy the indoors and the outdoors at the same time? But one of the reasons that you take steps to block the sun – and with it, your view of the outdoors – in the main part of your house is because if you didn't, you'd end up paying a fortune in heating and cooling costs. How can you make sure that your sunroom is energy efficient so that you don't lose money on your new addition? Take a look at some tips that can help.
For a sunroom, the windows are the biggest thing that you need to consider. You may be planning a sunroom with one completely glass wall and two aluminum walls, or you may be planning glass on three sides of the enclosure. Either way, you're going to let in a lot more light than you would in the average room, and you need to figure out how to manage it.
While double paned windows are fine for the rest of the house, triple paned windows are a better option for a sunroom. The extra pane of glass not only provides a thicker barrier between you and the sun, it also allows for an extra layer of insulating gas. Argon is the insulating gas most commonly used between panes of glass, and while you would only have one layer of argon in a double paned window, you will have two if you choose three panes.
One final thing that you can do to make sure that your windows are energy efficient is have them coated with a thin metal that deflects the sun's glare. These metal coatings – usually titanium oxide or silver – are not visible, but their presence reduces the effects of the sun. Combining all three of these factors – triple panes, insulating gas, and coatings – will give you the most energy efficient glass possible for your sunroom.
One way of making your sunroom a comfortable space is by adding thermal mass – dense materials that will absorb and conduct heat that does make its way into your sunroom when the sun is shining. There are many ways to do this. A simple way is with your sunroom's flooring. Skip lighter weight carpeting or wood, and use stone, concrete, or heavy tile for the floor of your sunroom. Not only will you give the room a unique look, you'll provide thermal mass.
If you're looking for something a little more creative, you should consider adding a water wall to your sunroom. This is a wall made up of water vessels like paint cans,55-gallon drums, pipes, or fiberglass tubes. The water vessels, and the water inside of them, holds onto the heat and releases it slowly. This is a trick sometimes used to create heat sinks in greenhouses, and it could work equally well in your sunroom. Have fun with it by painting the water vessels in bright colors that match your sunroom's décor.
It's a good idea to consider plants both outside and inside of the sunroom. Careful landscaping outside of the sunroom can increase the room's energy efficiency. Plant shade trees and shrubbery outside of the sunroom to help deflect some of the most direct rays. You'll save energy and beautify your view at the same time.
It's not a bad idea to have some potted plants inside of your sunroom as well. With so much light allowed inside, sunrooms are very conducive to the growth of many plants. Indoor plants improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide. Having a few plants in your sunroom can be good for your health and reduce your stress level.
If you've been putting off adding a sunroom because of the potential heating and cooling costs, there's no need to wait any longer. There are many strategies that will allow you to enjoy a sunroom without paying a fortune in energy bills. Ask your contractor about the most energy efficient strategies for building your sunroom.