Energy Efficient Sunrooms

Energy Efficient Sunrooms

By Larry J. Reaves

A sunroom is a lovely and popular home addition that can be a relaxing retreat, a breakfast area, or a playroom for kids. Sunrooms are inexpensive to build and generally increase your home’s equity. But did you know that a sunroom can also be a part of your strategy to increase your home’s efficiency? Indeed, a sunroom is a simple way to incorporate solar energy into your home heating plan, as they stay comfortably warm throughout most of the year. Opening the windows and doors that adjoin the sunroom to the rest of your house will allow the radiant warmth to come in. An exhaust fan will pull the warm air from the sunroom into the rest of the house. If you really want to get technical, you can even use a thermostat to automatically control when the fan turns on and off.

Growing plants in your sunroom isn’t just pleasing to the eye; growing a potted kitchen garden of herbs and greens will reduce your grocery bill, and at the same time the plants will act as humidifiers and air purifiers. The moisture in the air will better conduct heat, and therefore require less energy use. You and your plants will get the most benefits from the sun’s light and heat if your sunroom faces south or southeast. Using clay pots is also a good strategy as it ass thermal mass to the room, which keep the room from overheating during the day, and retain heat at night.


Before you get ready to build, make sure you know exactly what you want. However, doing a little scavenging beforehand could save you a bundle, and might inspire your creativity. Look around at specialty window stores, home centers, and architectural salvage centers: you might run across a discounted set of windows that someone ordered, and later abandoned that particular project. Try to find windows with low-emissivity coatings and/or gapped windows with gas fill. These will go far toward insulating your sunroom by keeping the cold glass from sucking all the heat out on cold nights.

While the easiest and fastest plan of attack is to hire a professional to build your sunroom, if you are handy, you might consider saving some money by building it yourself. You can purchase the necessary materials and sometimes even pre-measured installation kits from specialty sunroom manufacturers. These kits are quite simple to put together even if you aren’t a master carpenter. Types and weights of sunrooms vary so that you will either have to build the base on the ground, or you might choose a lighter set-up that you can simply install over an existing wooden deck.

Keep efficiency at the forefront of you mind when you are building your sunroof. In warm climates, you’ll want to put a good, insulated roof on your sunroom, or else it will turn into an oven. Likewise, in cooler climates, a clear roof will stay nice and toasty year-round. There are plenty of accessories that will help you circulate the air and reflect the sun’s heat when it is unwanted. You might install moveable cellulose shades; roof vents and skylights will help if you have a solid roof on your sunroom. If the windows are straight up and down, they will absorb less heat, whereas if they are slanted, the room will warm up quickly.

About the Author:

Creative Energy Exteriors

is the leading hom,e improvement company and provider of

sunroom designs

serving Richmond, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg and Central VA.


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