How to Add Heating to a Sunroom or Screened Porch
A sunroom gives your home the best of both worlds – the comfort of the indoors with the fresh air and views from outside. It’s a great and relatively inexpensive way to expand your house. When the weather is warm…
When the colder months roll around, the room becomes impractical. But, by adding heating to the enclosed patio, you can use it all year round. There are plenty of options out there for heating a sunroom but the best one will depend on your preferences, the size of your sunroom, and your budget.
Option #1: Portable heaters
Space heaters are the least expensive way to heat a sunroom or screened-in porch with most running under $100 and being as easy to use as simply plugging it in and turning it on. So while they are low-cost and relatively low-hassle, they use a lot of energy to produce relatively little heat. Enclosed patios are typically not well-insulated because they’re on the outside of the house, allowing heat to escape much more quickly than rooms within a structure. The portable space heater then has to do all the work and because of this, heaters are associated with thousands of house fires and hundreds of deaths every year.
You can also find ceiling- or wall-mounted heaters which are good if you want to opt for a portable heater but don’t have a lot of floor space for them or are concerned about a child or pet knocking them over. These heaters use radiant heat to warm a room and provide a soft, warm heat like the sun shining down.
Portable space heaters may be good in a pinch but using them as the main source of heat in the room will likely just lead to a higher electric bill and could potentially start a fire.
Option #2: Add insulating materials
If heat is able to pass from the main areas of your house to the sunroom, you may not need to invest in heaters and could instead find ways to insulate the room from the cold. You might consider adding:
Radiant floor heating
While there are alternatives, for a sunroom, you could purchase heating mats which will offer supplemental heat, a great option if you just want a little extra warmth but don’t want to invest in heated floors. You might even consider installing one underneath the floorboards as you’re building.
Install clear vinyl on the screens
Installing clear vinyl inside the screens can help to keep the warmth from escaping outside. This works best with heat coming from the main house or another source of heat within the sunroom.
These curtains are specifically designed to keep heat from escaping and are especially useful in rooms with large windows like your sunroom. They work best when covering the windows completely but it’s helpful to leave them open during the day so as to get the heat from the sunlight and then shut them at dark.
Finally, keep your feet warm with heavy throw rugs or carpeting. Either way, this will prevent the heat from being absorbed by the cold concrete slab floor.
Option #3: Extend your home’s ductwork
If your home has a traditional furnace setup, you might consider continuing the ductwork to your enclosed patio. This, however, tends to work better in theory than in practice because it can be very expensive and not worth the cost. Considering the design, fabrication, and installation that goes into the process plus the fact that the further the room is from the existing ducts, the more you have to add, this project can cost at least a couple thousand dollars.
Even then, the heat is still controlled by the thermostat inside which usually registers the temperature from a much warmer room in the house.
Option #4: Ductless heating and cooling
Ductless heating is a solution that gives you the best of both worlds: the power and efficiency of a central unit with the customization just for that one room. A ductless heating system, also referred to as a mini-split, uses an outdoor heat pump to generate heat which then travels to the home through thin, plastic tubing. It is also equipped with a built-in thermostat which allows you to set whatever temperature you want.