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Energy Efficient Tips for Adding a Sunroom to Your Home

Apr 17, 2012

Sunroom home additions are not only an excellent way to increase living space but also a sure way to increase the value of your home. Energy efficient sunrooms can be a very wise financial investment, but the important thing to know is that they need to be installed or constructed by experienced professional contractors to avoid potential problems such as errors with permits, electrical dangers or plumbing issues, to name just a few.

Whether you decide to add a family room, home office or a seating area, the addition of a new room does require careful planning and considerable financial output. However, the benefits of increased living space and improved resale value of your home should be worth the time and expense.

Energy Efficient Sunrooms

To be energy efficient, sunrooms should be constructed with special glass, proper windows, good framing and insulation. Without these elements, overheating and freezing will be inevitable, resulting in wasted energy and high energy bills. Be wary of low sunroom prices. Quality materials are more expensive, but cheap prices will only amount to low a quality, inefficient sunroom with associated problems.

Window Glass

Sunrooms are typically over 50% glass, therefore using regular window glazing or even double-paned glass is not recommended. Window energy rating labels involve two main elements:

  • U-factor (Solar Heat Loss Coefficient)
  • SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

A handy rule of thumb when selecting your glass is: The lower the “U-factor” of the glass the greater is its ability to retain heat. A single-pane glass window has a U-factor of 1.1, which is too high (these windows allow too much heat to be lost). Modern windows should have a U-factor of less than 0.3, resulting in very good energy efficiency. It is also important to note that some manufacturers include plastic films on interior panes, which increase the energy efficiency of the glass.

If you live in a colder region you will want to make sure the glass used in your sunroom windows is “”Low-E”” glass, which boosts the energy efficiency by reducing heat transfer while filtering out damaging ultraviolet rays. Low-E glass will help you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “Selective Transmission Glass” will reduce heat gains to around 30 BTU’s on the roof and 79 BTU’s on vertical glass walls.

Sunroom Insulation

Proper insulation of the sunroom is also critically important to avoid extremely hot and cold temperatures, which can have a significant impact on the rest of your house. An experienced contractor will be able to determine type, quality and amounts of insulation needed for you particular sunroom.

Costs of a Sunroom Addition

Typical costs of a sunroom will largely depend on size, features and existing conditions. A simple two-season screened deck or porch that is custom built will range from $5,000 – $15,000. Prefabricated sunrooms with glass walls will start around $10,000 (8 x 10 foot space) and average $15,000 – $35,000 for larger, three-season types. For a custom built, 200 square foot, four-season sunroom addition with a concrete slab foundation, post-and-beam framing, insulation, quality glass windows and screens, window shades, ceiling fan and a tile floor, the average price range is around $45,000 – $55,000.

Check with your local planning department for building codes and permit requirements. That will give you a good idea about what is needed when discussing building your sunroom with a qualified contractor. RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractors have been trained in energy efficiency, and they understand the impact that adding a sunroom will have on your heating and cooling systems.