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Considerations for choosing an energy efficient conservatory

Conservatories are beautiful home extensions that add a fresh and open dimension to your lifestyle. However, in order for them to be useful, the inside climate must be comfortable both in winter and summer. There are several ways to control the climate inside a conservatory, but some come with high energy costs. The best way to reduce these costs is to build an energy efficient conservatory. There are many things you can do to save heat and allow cool breezes to blow through, simply by planning carefully in advance what materials are used. The design is also a factor depending on where the conservatory is placed. A conservatory that faces towards the north needs to be well heated, and one that faces south needs good ventilation.

Under certain conditions, conservatories are not subject to building regulations, and there is no required standard of insulation, however, to get the most use out of your investment, it is in your best interest to use the most energy efficient material available. During the summer months energy efficiency means the heat is kept out of the conservatory, and during the winter months it means the heat is kept in and does not leak out.

Inexpensive materials used for building a conservatory may save money during construction, but if you plan to use it all year around, you may spend much more in trying to heat it during the winter. In this way, you have not saved anything, and the cost of heating will, most probably, only go up. Also, cheap materials do not make a conservatory that will add value to the resale price of your house.

To build an energy efficient conservatory, you should start by choosing the material for the windows and doors. The top of the line is the Argon filled sun control windows. With Argon gas in between two panes of Low-e energy saving glass, the heat from sunlight will be reduced during the summer and saved inside the conservatory during the winter. Argon does not transmit heat as easily as air does, and the insulation is considered better than a brick wall. The gas is colourless and odourless and has a leaking rate of one per cent per year. This is very minimal, and the windows are efficient for over 20 years. The gas is completely harmless to plants and animals. It is actually in the air you breathe.

Today, to save as much energy as possible, all windows are required to have a thermal transmittance or U value of below 1.6 W/m2.K. In other words, windows much have a Window Energy rating of ā€˜Cā€™ or higher. Doors are required to have below a 1.8 W/m2.K value. When choosing windows and doors for a DIY conservatory, or when talking to a contractor about a plan, look for the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) mark on the windows. It will show the energy efficiency rating of the glass. Your conservatory will have a low U-factor, which means the doors, windows and spacer material is energy efficient, and heat is not lost through the window.

The roof design can also enhance energy efficiency. There is energy-efficient Low-e insulating glass, self-cleaning glass, high insulating glass, and solar control glass that are tinted in various colours. All of these types of glass give a clearer view than polycarbonate and have much improved solar control. These glass roofs are also much quieter during rain or hail storms than polycarbonate. Self-cleaning glass speaks for itself. You can avoid the difficult and unsafe job of climbing to the roof to clean the glass.

If you plan to use polycarbonate for the roof, it is better to use 35 mm thickness for energy efficiency than 16 mm or 25mm thick. There is also polycarbonate that has a reflective layer on the outer surface that prevents sunlight from penetrating. It has a shiny, opal finish which looks attractive. Light can still enter through the roof, but the solar rays are deflected by about 50 per cent compared with untreated polycarbonates.

Eco-friendly blinds are another way to make your conservatory energy efficient. These blinds are designed to block heat from coming into the room during the summer, and they also block heat from leaving the room while stopping draughts during the winter. Eco-friendly blinds can also be an attractive decorative element as they are available in several colours and styles. Another benefit to eco-friendly blinds is their cost. They are an inexpensive way to make your conservatory energy efficient.

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