How To Choose A Heater For Your Conservatory

When heating your conservatory, there are two heating categories to consider;

  • Electric conservatory heating; which comes with high running costs but ensures cleanliness even without ventilation and quick temperature adjustment
  • Gas conservatory heating; which has low running costs but needs ventilation

Heaters can either be fixed (designed for dwarf wall mounting) or standard (portable e.g. panel, convection and radiant types)
Examples of conservatory heaters include; Igenix IG9200 2kw low level panel heat, Ambientair 2kw thermostatic convector panel heater, Dimplex PLX3000tTI 3kw thermostatic convector panel heater, Consort Claudgen Chelsea WMH3.
The conservatory heaters work by;

  • Radiation (radiating heat with the help of a reflective glass)
  • Convection (providing heat by producing hot air currents that fill the room or through thermal conduction)
  • Fan(an electric fan forces warm air into the cold room)
  • Heat pumps (an electric compressor extracts heat from outdoor air raises its temperature then pumps it back to the cold building)
  • Storage (storing heat in clay, water or bricks to release it later)
  • Heat exchange(radiator passes heat through a conductor)

People have different reasons for regulating conservatory temperatures. The following are some of the reasons;

  • To maintain plants (if any) that cannot withstand very high or low temperatures
  • To use it throughout the day therefore important to maintain its temperature at a favorable constant level
  • To use it as a meals room, therefore keeping it warm becomes necessary

Before deciding on the type of heater to use, ensure your conservatory is well conditioned. An air conditioning unit can be used since it can again act as a heater though not sufficiently especially during winter. Air circulation should also be enhanced via the use of roof vents ceiling fans and well placed windows
With the help of a conservatory designer, the level of heating will be determined by measuring the internal volume of the conservatory, expected heat loss via dwarf walls and glazing while taking into consideration the direction which the conservatory is facing.
The following are some factors to consider when choosing a heater for your conservatory

I. Cost of the heater

What is your budget? Is the price affordable? Is the price VAT inclusive?Are there after sale services e.g. delivery and installation to cut on additional costs? These are some of the important questions that may influence the type of heater to purchase.

II. Ionization filtration

This is an advanced feature in heaters that enable it to not only give warm air but also fresh clean air. Most of them also have compressors controlled by inverters that enable them to obtain the highest level of energy efficiency when heating or cooling.

III. Remote control enabled

This gives you the power of control from wherever you are at the touch of a button. Some remote controllers have a ‘dehumidify option’ that allows removal of excess moisture from the air. With the dehumidifier, condensation on glass can easily be controlled from your relaxed position.
Consequently, through remote control, conservatory heater can be set to ‘fan only mode’. This ensures fresh and pleasant air movement throughout the conservatory.

IV. Coefficient of performance (COP)

Coefficient of performance allows heaters to quickly and easily balance the cold and warm air output. Almost immediately on switching on, a noticeable difference should be felt. Good heaters have a coefficient of performance of around four. I.e. whatever the input, the output should be four times more.

V. Space Utilization

As an investment, another important factor to consider before purchase and installation of conservatory heater is the amount of space it will take. This is solely for convenience purposes.
A spacious conservatory is more comfortable to be in as it offers sufficient room for movement. If your conservatory is small, you don’t want the remaining space to be ‘consumed’ further by the heater.

VI. Type of heating

Different types of conservatory heating include;

  • Electric panel heating; are cost friendly, easy to install and heat up quickly. The only downside is that they have high running costs.
  • Under floor heating; with this method of heating, pipes are run underneath floor tiles. Even though they are costly in terms of purchase and installation, they don’t take up conservatory space, require low running costs and a very comfortable way of keeping a room warm
  • Oil filled radiator heating; are very cheap to obtain although heavy to move
  • Night storage heating; though expensive to install and difficult to regulate, they are fairly cheap and economical.
  • Central heating; this system is cheap to run and of high efficiency although it has higher installation costs.
  • Tubular heating; usually used outside rooms to prevent temperatures going below zero for survival of plants and other items. It’s only used for frost protection and is tailored for damper conditions e.g. garden shed and glass house, it’s also not very costly.
  • Gas fire heating; depending on the conservatory design, butane or propane gas heater can be used. It is portable and requires no installation costs. Its downside is that it can cause condensation, sometimes produces some funny smell and although portable, it’s heavy and bulky.
  • Heat pumps; are of two types; air source and ground source. Though expensive, they require low running costs and can be used as a means of cooling.
  • Fan heating; fairly noisy with irritating airflow and high running costs but portable

The heating method desired will influence the type of heater to be purchased. Whichever it is, it should be cost effective, efficient and tailored to suit personal needs.
Other factors include;

VII. Running or operational costs

Goodconservatory heaters should be tailored to suit your needs in a comfortable way. Their running costs should suit your budget.

VIII. Environmental effects

Some heaters produce noise and irritating airflow heaters. Gas heaters also produce some funny smell due to burning of butane or propane. Continuous inhalation of these gases may cause healthy concerns in the long run. Also, they create a not very comfortable conservatory environment.
In most cases, the higher the price of the heater, the lower the running cost. Conversely, the lower the price the higher the running cost. Therefore proper consideration on other factors (as explained above) apart from purchase price and running cost should be taken into consideration before purchase.




Insulation Rolls

Best Materials For Insulating Your Home

Insulation is a very important process of heat flow regulation. Good insulation materials provide comfort due to their ability to keep homes cool in summer and warm in winter. Through little or no emission of greenhouse gases.
The following are considered the best insulation materials.

I. Aerogel

The process of manufacturing aerogel is called supercritical drying through which ethanol is vented. Other materials required include; aqueous ammonia and silica solution.
Only 20mm of Aerogel achieves better insulation compared to other materials. On park homes, it is used to insulate external walls and their insides.
Although an expensive material, it is most effective for those ‘hard to heat homes’ and provides the best alternative where floor reduction space is an issue.

II. Mineral Wool

Two types of mineral wool manufactured are;

  • Rock wool; manufactured from natural rock where limestone is heated at high temperatures of 1500c then spinning is done to turn them into fibers. The fibers are then passed through air which makes them finer.
  • Slag wool; manufactured from the waste products of iron ore. It contains 75% of waste material and 25% of ballast.

Slag wool, though it causes irritation when handled, is very efficient and totals more than 80% of mineral wool produced. It is used for cavity wall insulation where mineral wool fibers are blown into wall cavities via a special hose pipe.

III. Cork

For best insulation on flat roofs and floors, consider the use of Cork. It is sound proof, a good insulator and keeps its original shape when trodden on. It is also soft with suberin (natural wax), impermeable to liquids, fire resistant, termite resistant and very light in weight.
Cork is produced from the outer bark of cork oak tree mostly found in the Mediterranean. After striping, the back takes eight to thirteen years to regrow. When large sections of the bark are punched, they manufacture bottle corks. For floor and wall tiles, they have to undergo baking and compression.

IV. Form

Form is the easiest insulation material to use since it is only glued to the wall like wallpaper and painted over. It also helps to hold together crumbling brick walls.
Urea Formaldehyde, usually confused with Form is a different kind of form piped into wall cavities and when drying it emits a product called Formaldehyde.
For internal wall insulation, dense latex form with fiber glass face is used

V. Flax

Flax has both temperature and moisture regulating qualities. It can absorb moisture when humidity is high and release it when humidity is low. The fibers of the stem of flax plant are extracted and used in the manufacture of flax insulator. It is very natural due to the fact that binding is by potato starch.
The most common brand is Isovlas, it is very secure thus can be handled without gloves and is delivered in slabs.

VI. Glass Wool

Knauf loft insulation/space blanket (0.035u) is an example of glass wool insulator. When manufacturing, fibers are obtained from super-heated sand and recycled glass. During this process, ‘not so safe’emissions are produced
When glass wool is burnt, it produces toxic smoke. Always handle it with gloves to prevent irritation.
When dry, glass wool is a very efficient type of insulator.

VII. Foil Quilt

For attic or loft conversions and roof rafters, foil quilt is the best insulation material. Numerous tough aluminium foil layers are sealed in quilt and delivered in 38mm thick rolls. The rolls are easy to cut and very safe to handle. Foil quilt is a relatively new insulating material.

VIII. Cotton

Cotton for insulation comes in different brands. Isonat brand contains recycled cotton, hemp and polyester matting in a mixture of 42.5%, 42.5% and 15% respectively. When manufacturing ‘Polyester Matting’ is used as a thermoplastic binder and ‘hemp’ acts as a bulking fibre. For control of pests and combustion, borate is added.
Cotton, a non-allergenic material, absorbs and releases moisture and provides quality comfort.

IX. Paper

With little energy, Newspaper is recycled then shredded to form cellulose loft insulation material. This material is very safe when handling.
Although paper could produce some smell, release ink and lose its fire retardation qualities when soaked, it is non-toxic, does not rot, does not attract vermin and has no negative effects on PVC used to cover electrical wires.
When recycled jute sacking material is added, board form is produced. It is treated with Borax to make it resistant to rot and fire. Examples of board brands include; Homatherm Board and Warmcel Board.

X. Perlite beads

Perlite is poured into wall cavities during wall construction. It is very light in weight and with numerous small air cells, it can penetrate through crevices, cracks and nooks to provide a perfect wall cover.
Perlite, when subjected to high temperatures of 900c, expands up to sixteen times of its original size.

XI. Polystyrene

Example of polystyrene brand includes kingspanKooltherm k7 and XtrathermEstra Performance.
During its manufacture, pentane gas which forms smog is released. Polystyrene unlike other form blocks is not manufactured from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or Hydrochloro-fluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Polystyrene blocks can be reused or remoulded. Where machinery access is difficult in walls, polystyrene beads are encouraged. Beads are resistant to moisture, compression pressure and moisture.
When polystyrene is burnt, it emits toxic fumes.

XII. Wood

Wood produces sawdust and shavings important for loft insulation. Compressed waste from wood mills is used in the manufacture of boards important for wall and floor insulation.

XIII. Straw

A very cheap form of insulation since it is natural. Can be used for roofing (thatching) or walls (through straw bale construction).
When straws are used, measures need to be taken to prevent intrusion by moisture, insects and decay. They are good replacements for timber and other costly materials.
Under compression, straw produces resin which binds it together. It is provided in slabs and bales which can be used for wall partitions, and insulation.

XIV. Sheep wool

Brands include; ThermaFleece (with 50/75/100mm thickness)
A good condenser since it can absorb moisture up to 40% of its dry weight. During summer time, sheep wool reduces temperatures up to 7% unlike other forms of insulation.
Quassi Chips of Unscoured Fleece are used in walls to prevent moths thus making it lifelong.
Sheep wool is provided in slabs from fleece offcuts.

XV. Hemp

Apart from it being used as a thermoplastic binder in cotton, hemp, on its own, can act as an insulator. During manufacturing, hemp does not pollute the environment and is provided in slabs. Examples include Thermo hemp and Hemcrete. Hemcrete is a thermally efficient building block.
Hemp is fire resistant due to Sodium Bicarbonate product added to it, offers good resistance to bugs and moulds and provides perfect moisture regulating qualities. It is also good for sound proofing

Recycled Insulation Materials

Recycled Materials For Insulation

In the current world, greater effects of pollution and environmental degradation have contributed to increased levels of environmental health hazards, inefficiencies and increased costs of energy and fuel. To curb these negative effects from soaring higher, measures have been put in place to ensure working towards the building of a ‘green’ and sustainable environment. In the insulation industry, that measure is the optimal use of materials that can be recycled in the manufacture of quality insulators.
Examples of recycled materials for insulation include;

I. Cellulose Insulation

Recycled from old newspapers, cellulose is the considered to be among the most successful insulation materials to be produced. More than 85% of cellulose is from recycled material making it sustainable and very eco-friendly.
Cellulose provides resistance to fire, moisture and vermin. It also provides good sound insulation, not forgetting its efficient and perfect thermal properties.

II. Mineral Fiber Insulation

Rock Wool and Slag Wool are blended to form Mineral Fiber Insulation. In Mineral Fiber Insulation Material, Slag wool is used in a larger percentage and is a by-product of Coke and Iron. Had it not been for recycling, Slag wool would have been disposed thereby increasing land fill problems. In recent years, more than ten billion pounds of Slag wool has been recycled in the manufacture of Mineral Fiber Insulation.
Mineral Wool is mostly used in commercial buildings and for industrial applications. It provides sound insulation, its non-combustible, easy to cut and shape and resistant to corrosion. Mineral wool is also resistant to fungi and mold.

III. Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass is a Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP). Fiberglass Insulation also called glass wool is manufactured fromrecycled scrap glass from scrape bottles. In the last ten years, according to research and statistics, almost ten billion pounds of scrape bottles (which is approximately 45% of total raw material) have undergone recycling to form fiberglass insulation boards.
Scrape bottle dumping has been greatly reduced due to recycling techniques employed in the manufacture of Fiberglass Insulation and this has greatly reduced the initially high levels of Environmental hazards in landfills.
During its manufacture, scrape glass is shredded then slur made by mixing it with water. The mixture is then passed in the ‘head box’ for draining and mixing with other chemicals for binding. It is then pressed and dried for the final quality product.
Fiberglass conserves up to 12 times the amount of energy used in its production when in thermal insulation. It also reduces energy costs up to 40%.
Fiberglass is also employed in the manufacture of automobile and aircraft bodies to slow down the spread of heat and sound to other parts/structures. It is also fire resistant.

IV. Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling Tiles are manufactured from scrap fiberglass. Instead of burying the material in a landfill, it is therefore put to a better use.
Statistics indicate that, in one manufacturing company, more than twelve million pounds of scrape fiberglass has undergone recycling to manufacture ceiling tiles. As a result, this quantity has made a significant impact in the reduction of carbon dioxide gas emission by 12 million kilograms. Additionally, landfill waste has been reduced by 25 million pounds, 13 million gallons of water conserved, more than 240 million of virgin raw materials saved and approximately 35 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity consumption saved. These statistics should inspire other companies into recycling so as to maintain a better, eco-friendly environment.
Ceiling tiles are tailored to customer budgets, are resistant to fire, mold and mildew and also have sound absorption properties.

V. Structural Building Blocks for Insulation

The best example of this type of building block is insulated concrete forms (ICFs) made from polystyrene (a consumer plastic form) and cement. Polystyrene takes a high percentage in this process thereby increasing the wall R-value to approximately 1.73 per inch.
A lot of tonnage of plastic form material has undergone recycling reducing the negative effects they could have had on the environment.
The following are some advantages of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs);

  • Sustainability; are long lasting and material used can be recycled for better new quality products.
  • Security; offers resistance to fire, earthquakes and deadly wind.
  • Energy saving; possesses superior thermal properties.
  • Health; do not emit harmful gases or fumes are also safe to handle
  • Cost; Insulated Concrete Forms are affordable.
  • Labor; low impact labor since they are light in weight.
  • Resistance; to mold, mildew and fire.

VI. Recycled Denim

Another name for Recycled Denim is Natural Cotton Fiber. It is manufactured from waste cloth clippings of Denim and is commonly used in residential and commercial properties. It fits to roles of Mineral Wool and Fiber Glass i.e. used on ceiling joists, roof rafters among others.
Compared to other insulation materials, Recycled Denim offers the following benefits:

  • Environmental friendly; recycled materials which could have otherwise been disposed to landfills are used. More than 200 tons of waste materials are recycled every month in one company alone to produce Cotton Fiber.
  • Energy consumption; manufacture of Recycled Denim takes low energy compared to the other materials e.g. Fiberglass
  • Health; very safe with no skin irritation and no respiratory tract irritation,
  • Safety; fire resistant, doesn’t spread fire and not readily flammable. No carcinogens and doesn’t contain any toxic material.
  • Interior Air Quality and Acoustics; Natural Cotton Fiber/Recycled Denim contains neither Formaldehyde nor organic compounds.Because of this; it provides better indoor air quality.Its indoor acoustics is rated to be more than 30% higher to those of other insulation materials. This ensures a peaceful, comfortable, and quiet interior.
  • Thermal Performance; Recycled Denim provides excellent thermal performance with low energy and high HVAC
  • It is Sustainable; since more than 80% of the material used in its manufacturing is recyclable.
  • Safety; fire resistant, doesn’t spread fire and not readily flammable. No carcinogens and not a toxic material.

With the rising effects of global warming (which is as a result of emission of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere), the rising costs of oil and fuel and an environment that is constantly undergoing degradation, recycling of material becomes the only cost effective way of saving on energy and maintaining an eco-friendly environment. LET US EMBRACE IT.

Check out this video for a great green idea for using recycled materials for insulation: