Conservatory heating ideas: 11 tips to tackle the chill

How to keep your conservatory warm throughout the seasons

Getting the temperature right in a conservatory can be challenging when the weather is chilly. We’re sharing our top conservatory heating ideas on making your extra living space a room for all seasons, so you can get the most out of your conservatory, whatever the weather.

Read on to discover our top conservatory heating ideas so you can make the most of your extra space.

Elegant conservatory dining area with black and white striped rugCredit: Shutterstock/Ground Picture
Get the most out of your conservatory throughout the year and discover how to keep it cosy during the chillier months

1. Use underfloor heating for all-round heat

Let the warmth rise

Choosing underfloor heating for your conservatory can be an ideal solution when an abundance of glazing means wall space is at a premium. Rather than offering hot spots of heat, heated pipes or electric cables placed directly beneath your flooring provide an even distribution of heat. However, it’s easier to fit underfloor heating when the conservatory is being built rather than retrospectively.

Rachel Munby, group marketing director at Anglian Home Improvements, says: “Installing underfloor heating is one of the most effective ways of raising the temperature of your conservatory. This heating style gives plenty of warmth, a consistent flow of heat and saves on using up wall and floor space with a heater or radiator.”

With two types of underfloor heating, based on either a wet or electric system, we asked Tom Edmunds, general manager at Wunda Group, what he recommends for conservatories. “A wet-based system will have more energy and cost-saving benefits than an electric system,” he says. “And will cost on average 60% less to run.”

They also have an efficiency saving over radiators, Edmunds explains: “Underfloor heating temperatures can be as low as 35°C (95°F), using a lot less energy to heat a radiator that typically requires temperatures of 70-90°C (158°F-194°F).

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2. Make the most of your wall space with radiators

The long and short of it

“Adding a radiator and connecting it to your central heating is the most practical and cost-effective way to heat a conservatory,” says Thomas Goodman, property and construction expert at MyJobQuote, a website connecting homeowners with local tradespeople. “As walls tend to be low in conservatories, modern and traditional horizontal radiators are the best option that sit beneath the glazing.”

And there’s always the option to make more of low-level radiators. Lisa Morton, director at Vale Garden Houses, suggests adding radiator covers to provide additional seating. “A standard sill of around 300mm [9in] can be extended to provide a comfortable seating area or deep ledge for ornaments,” she says. “[If bespoke] the radiator covers can be made to any depth and with a variety of finishes on the front and top to assist air movement.”

Another solution is to use the wall space and go upwards by installing a vertical radiator. Although a vertical radiator will be in your sight line, there are plenty of attractive designs to suit every pocket.

If you’re keen for extra seating and favour a contemporary look, you could try The Radiator Centre’s Old Skool Bench; it’s available in a range of colours and finishes, although it will set you back more than £1,000. If your budget is more conservative and you’re looking for height, we suggest B&Q’s GoodHome Thorpe White Vertical Designer Radiator at £238.

3. Try cast iron radiators for retaining heat

Contemporary meets old school

Cast iron radiators will create a traditional look in your conservatory. They are now available in a range of sizes, including low-rise options, making them perfect for awkward conservatory spaces, such as under windows.

Old style radiator set on a tiled floorCredit: Rennaissance at Home
Low-level radiators sit neatly below window sills

Barry White, marketing director at heating and bathroom specialist Renaissance at Home, says: “Heat retention is the biggest advantage of today’s radiators made of cast iron. It has a particularly high thermal mass, which means it will continue to warm a room long after the central heating is switched off.

“They are also air source and ground source heat pump compatible, meaning heating the conservatory doesn’t need to cost a premium.”

Tip

Cast-iron radiators can be painted, adding a pop of colour to your conservatory’s interior.

4. Get an even distribution of heat with trench heating

Border control

Trench radiators sit around a conservatory perimeter and offer a similar benefit to underfloor heating.

So how does this system work? A trench is dug around the conservatory’s base, where the heating elements are placed – water pipes or electrical elements encased in conduit. If you opt for an electrical system, cold air is drawn into the grilles in the trench and is warmed by convection. The water system works like a traditional radiator and can run off a conventional boiler, although it’s best to check your boiler’s capacity before installation.

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Trench radiator covered with decorative grilleCredit: Vale Garden Houses
Decorative grilles are placed over the trench to create an attractive effect

Nick Duggan, managing director at The Radiator Centre, says: “When used against large windows, the heat coming from the trench acts as a kind of ‘air curtain’, which minimises heat loss and increases efficiency. Rooms are heated evenly, which eliminates draughts and cold spots, and also prevents condensation building on the windows.”

Both options give an even distribution of heat around the room, although trench heating is more complex and expensive to fit and is best added at the build stage, while skirting radiators can be added more easily to existing conservatories.

5. Try skirting radiators for radiant heat

Around the edges

Skirting radiators work in a similar way to trench heating as they sit around the edge of the room with water pipes or electric cables concealed behind the skirtings. They free up usable space within a conservatory without losing space to radiators or heaters.

If your space is limited, they could be a good option. And as they are placed all around a room, they give a much better distribution of heat than wall-mounted radiators. They are also a more practical solution to retrofit than trench radiators.

6. Air-to-air heat pump

Effective and fast but expensive

Air-to-air heat pumps, sometimes called air conditioning units, have a dual purpose to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer – a perfect combo for regulating heat in a conservatory. They run on electricity and work by heating and cooling your home with energy extracted from the air.

They are an energy-efficient, low-carbon heating solution suitable for small rooms, such as conservatories. However, you will need an area outside your home to fit the unit. The Energy Saving Trust also advises that you’ll need space around the unit to achieve a good airflow.

7. Draw the heat in with blinds or curtains

Go for thermal layers

Rather than just looking at heating your conservatory, finding ways to keep the heat in is worthwhile. Thermal curtains and blinds act as an extra layer of protection for your windows by trapping cold air draughts around your windows. They prevent cold air from outside getting in, and internal heat from escaping. Conservatory Blinds 4 Less states on its website that blinds can prevent up to 50% of heat loss from a conservatory.

Debbie Leigh, design manager at interior textile company ILIV, says: “Good quality window treatments, such as lined curtains and blinds, are worth the investment. Their ability to help keep the cold air from seeping into the conservatory makes them particularly useful during the autumn and winter months.

“Blackout and thermal linings help to keep a room warm,” she adds. “This has the added benefit that any heating systems will work more efficiently too.”

A conservatory featuring thermal patterned blindsCredit: Iliv
Thermal blinds and curtains create an extra layer of insulation, keeping the cold at bay

Blinding technology

Our interior expert Sarah Harley shares her knowledge on how clever textiles used in conservatory blinds help regulate heat. “Blinds give better thermal protection than curtains because they sit closer to the window and don’t have any gaps. However, manufacturers have also developed a range of hard-working fabrics and designs for conservatory blinds that make temperature regulation even easier.

“Although you may think thermal blinds would make the space warmer, it’s not the case. Pleated and D blinds – both popular conservatory blind choices – have extra temperature regulation as part of their design.

Duette blinds – also known as honeycomb blinds – have a double layer of fabric formed in a honeycomb-shaped structure, which traps hot air inside to ensure a warmer room during winter but then stops too much heat entering the space during the summer. A winning solution all year round.”

A conservatory living area with brown blinds and cream sofasCredit: English Blinds
There are plenty of hard-working fabrics on the market that work to regulate temperature

8. Use portable electric heating

Flexible heat on the move

The main advantage of portable heaters in conservatories is their flexibility – they can be positioned wherever heat is required. And with zero installation, you can simply plug in and go. Edmunds explains: “Electric heaters are often reached for when there are no other heating options available, offering short, instant bursts of heat throughout the day.”

Although electric heaters are inexpensive to buy, they are pricey to run. For example, Edmunds states that a 5,000-watt electric heater will cost almost £1.50 per hour to use. For this reason, David Lukeman, managing director at HeatElectric, recommends thinking about your heat requirements before making a purchase: “If you spend all day in your conservatory, you’re going to want an economical option.”

“The size of the room is an obvious consideration,” says Edmunds, “Bigger spaces, open plan settings and high ceilings will require the heater to run for longer to feel sufficiently warm. Similarly, if your home isn’t already properly insulated, any type of heating will perform less efficiently. Meaning you’ll have to use an electric heater for longer, costing more money.”

Safety first

An electric heater’s portability can also be its downside, especially if you’ve got young children running around or over-zealous four-legged friends. In this instance, Lukeman recommends a floor-standing heater with a tilt-over safety feature that shuts off if knocked over.

9. Double or triple up on glazing

Insulate, insulate, insulate

If your conservatory is still feeling cold after you’ve taken measures to improve its insulation, you may need to make larger alterations, such as upgrading to better double or triple glazing,” advises Munby. As an alternative, she suggests even swapping to a solid roof to help prevent heat loss.

While triple glazing will improve the energy efficiency of your conservatory, most of the heat is lost through the roof. So it makes sense to ensure the roof is well insulated before investing in any other measures.

10. Wood burning stoves add atmospheric heat

Create a focal point

Wood burner set against a wall in a conservatoryCredit: Vale Country Houses
A wood burner will create a warming ambience in a conservatory

You could opt for a wood burner if you’re not looking to conceal your conservatory heating with underfloor heating or discreet radiators. It will allow you to heat your room independently from your home’s main heating system, and act as a central focal point by adding a welcoming ambience.

Jon Butterworth, director at Arada Stoves, advises opting for an ecodesign ready stove for maximum efficiency. These help to reduce harmful emissions associated with solid fuel-burning room heaters. He also suggests speaking to a professional installer before purchasing to ensure you get the best product for your requirements.

If you live in a Defra smoke control area, you will need to install a Defra smoke exempt stove. These stoves usually have “SE” after their names to indicate they are smoke exempt.

Tip

It’s possible to install a log burner yourself, but because it’s considered “controlled work”, you’ll need to have the proposed and completed work inspected and certified by your local council or a private building inspector. ConservatoryLand advises that the best way to install a log burner in a conservatory is to hire a HETAS registered fitter.

11. Lay rugs to insulate your floor

Keep your toes toasty

Although tiles and wooden floors are a practical, easy-to-clean solution when you’re stepping in and out of the conservatory into the garden, they don’t retain the heat as well as carpets and rugs. Rob Smith, general manager at ConservatoryLand, says: “Wooden floors do not insulate heat as well as carpet, so if you want to avoid a cold conservatory, consider investing in a rug, which can help prevent heat from escaping.”

Land of Rugs suggests that wool is the best material for insulating against cold floors but it can be difficult to clean. If your conservatory is in a high-traffic zone, consider a rug made from thick cotton or polypropylene that’s easier to clean.

So if underfloor conservatory heating (mentioned above) isn’t an option, investing in a few rugs could be an inexpensive way to keep your toes toasty.

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Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her

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Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  

As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. 

It was when she started her family that her freelance career evolved. Having moved into a period house two days before her first son was born, she had the perfect opportunity to combine working from home with writing about her own house renovation projects. Apart from appearing on the cover of Your Home magazine, Camilla’s written for Ideal Homes, Real Homes, House Beautiful, and kitchen and bathroom business magazines.  

It was inevitable that her interest in all things homes would lead her to writing home interest features. As a young girl she had the earliest version of Pinterest – a scrap book full of home inspiration images cut from magazines.  

In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.