How to Keep Your Sunroom Cool
People who’ve never lived in a house with a sunroom don’t know what they’re missing. It’s the perfect place to have a coffee, read the newspaper, or relax after a hard day’s work—especially if there’s a nice, comfy chair.
There is a problem that can make a sunroom all but impossible to enter: the heat. The entire point of sunrooms is to let the sun’s rays in, but that can also bring in the sun’s heat to the degree that you can’t even sit down and enjoy your sunroom without sweating. Luckily, there are many ways to bring down the temperature and keep a cool sunroom.
A lot will also depend on your taste—not every way of controlling a sunroom’s temperature is equally appealing to everyone. So, as you read, imagine what each method would look and feel like and consider what you desire for your half-indoor, half-outdoor space.
Sometimes the simplest solutions yield the best results. One of the easiest ways to cool down a sunroom is to get some fresh air flowing through it.
A good way to accomplish this is by opening a window, but not all sunrooms have windows that can open and close. If that describes your sunroom situation, you can consider installing some. Indeed, that might even bring additional benefits, like letting in pleasant sounds and smells from outside. Another option for increased airflow through your sunroom is installing vents.
Both windows and vents will be most effective for keeping your sunroom cool if you install them high up. This increased effectiveness comes from the fact that hot air rises and cool air stays low. So, a vent near the ceiling will mostly have hot air escaping through it and will leave the cooler air in place.
Another tried and trusted way of keeping a cool sunroom is installing blinds. These will block out a lot of heat but do come with the drawback of blocking the beautiful sunlight that motivates people to build sunrooms. Sometimes even a sheer curtain will help to catch some of the heat, while still leaving the room filled with light.
Even if curtains do obscure your view, when it’s not too hot, you can pull them up to get a full sunroom experience. Another potential point in favor of blinds is the availability of quite beautiful systems made from wood or interesting plastic colors. If you find some you really like, you’ll be making an aesthetic and functional change simultaneously.
Most people think that insulation is only for keeping a room warm, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Insulation works by keeping the air you have in your sunroom there and not letting any in from the outside. This means that if the air is cool in the first place, it will stay like that.
There are several ways to insulate a sunroom. The most expensive option is fitting your space with new, insulated windows. These are made of multiple layers of glass, instead of just one, and lower thermal conductivity by forcing heat to slowly pass through the spaces between them. Some of the most advanced insulated windows use gasses like argon that diminish the amount of heat that passes through them.
Another option is using multi-foil insulation on all the non-glass areas. This type of insulation is very light but achieves good results. Manufacturers make multi-foil insulation by layering aluminum foil and wadding. Insulating your sunroom with multi-foil carries the additional benefit of controlling the amount of moisture that enters your sunroom, preventing dampness and mold.
Tint Your Windows
Tinted windows have a dark color that helps block out sunlight. You most commonly see them in cars, but they’re also a great option for keeping a cool sunroom. They work by reducing the amount of light (and therefore heat) that enters your sunroom and keeping the temperature down.
However, some people don’t like the look of tinted glass. This is a problem because once you've installed them, tinted windows are permanent (unlike blinds, which you can raise and lower). Some people positively like their appearance, so they would have no problem that you can’t easily remove them or change their color. However, if you aren’t fond of the look of tinted windows, there are still plenty of other options available to you.
Standing Fans and Ceiling Fans
By moving air around, fans can reduce your perception of heat in your sunroom. What’s great about standing fans is their low cost and portability, allowing you to bring them in when they’re needed and take them out of the way otherwise. However, they’re not the most powerful, so you might need to think about getting a ceiling fan if your sunroom gets hot.
Ceiling fans are a more permanent and expensive option but can reduce a space's temperature. They push hot air directly downwards into the cooler air near the floor, creating a circulating effect that stops the temperature from rising out of control. Also, you can use ceiling fans with adjustable speeds to get the perfect temperature by speeding them up if you’re hot and slowing them down if you’re cold.
Using air conditioners in your sunroom is your most powerful weapon in the battle for a habitable temperature. As we all know, running an AC is expensive, especially when the sun is constantly putting heat back into space. If you want to use this option, it would be good to use blinds or tinted windows to cut down on your energy bill.
PTAC units are a great option, as they work without a duct system, cutting down on the installation process. They also work well for keeping a specific area cool. If you choose to go this route, check out this guide to selecting the best PTAC to know everything you need to choose the right unit for your sunroom.
Time Your Visits
While you can always be in your sunroom, many people find it best to deliberately carve out time to spend in their sunroom early in the morning, before the sun has had much time to heat the space up. Temperatures in the early morning are usually far cooler than midday, and if you’re early enough you may even catch a beautiful sunrise!
You may even consider turning a section of your sunroom into a breakfast nook, so you can start your day soaking up some sun without disrupting your usual routine. Even a small table, similar to what you might place on a patio, will open up a lot of options.
Summing It All Up
As we’ve seen, there are a lot of ways to stop your sunroom from becoming uncomfortably hot in the warm summer sun. Hopefully, you can find the silver bullet to keep yours cool, or if not, at least a combination of different methods that work well enough for you to enjoy your sunroom any time of the year.
And if you don’t already have a sunroom? We can’t recommend them enough. There’s something about the ability to have a hybrid space that’s indoors but interfaces with the outdoors that feel special. Plus, adding a sunroom can help increase your home's value, and help it sell even faster when you’re ready to move on to your next home.
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