Cooooold Sunroom

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  #1  
Old 10-25-06, 07:58 AM
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Cooooold Sunroom

I just recently moved into this house. We inspected it in May, bought it in July and moved in in August. It is 15 years old, 3300 sf and only has one furnace, which is huge and inefficient. It is in Chicago, so not surprisingly, it is now cold outside. And inside.

The first floor is almost completely hardwood, the exception being the living room, where the thermostat is. The family room is behind the garage and under an over-the-garage room by two feet, the rest is a cathedral ceiling. The neighborhood building reqs stipulate wood windows. The ones in this house are drafty.

The first owners added on a gorgeous sunroom. It is 14x13 and has 2 registers on the back wall. It is open to the kitchen with a n 8-foot doorway (no door). Hardwood floor and pine panelling on all walls and ceiling. 9 vinyl windows, 2 sunlights and 2 glass doors. Underneath, it is on stilts, so air flows under it as well as around and over it.

The draft is horrible. It was about 5-6 degrees colder in there than even in the kitcen area where it is attached. I mitigated it some by putting the plastic over all the windows that were causing problems. That helped significantly in my bedroom and the over-the-garage room, but it hasn't done much in the sunroom or the family room - it is still a good 3 degrees colder.

I'm considering putting a very large rug in the rooms. I'm also considering replacing the windows in the sunroom next year. Or maybe putting French doors or a slider on between the kitchen and sunroom. I'm not sure what is the best thing to do, as I really don't want to close the space off.

Can anyone suggest ways to get through this winter that will not kill the budget?
 
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Old 10-25-06, 08:30 AM
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First, I deleted the other post you had about this, as duplicate posting is not allowed.

You need to figure out where you're losing heat first. Windows are a likely spot, esecially if covering them made a noticable difference. With air being able to get beneath the room, insulation in the floor could be significant. Sometimes little things help, like putting insulation around the outlets on the outside walls. Most power companies will come out to your home and do an energy audit for problems just like this.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 08:58 AM
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Thanks for the tip. I will definitely try the power company.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 10:21 AM
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I'm suprised the room is only 3F colder with all that glass... but I assume that when it gets closer to 0F, the difference will be much greater. I'm also confused as to the reason why at one point you say wood windows are required, then next you mention that the sunroom has vinyl.

Glass is the least efficient part of your home, and it sounds like you have a lot of it. That, plus the fact that it sounds like your sunroom has 3 exterior walls AND is built on stilts all work against it as far as keeping it warm.

Assuming everything was insulated to the best of their abilites, I would suggest that your best solution is to add baseboard heat around the perimeter of the room that is controlled by a seperate thermostat in the room and add a ceiling fan if there is none so as to circulate the air so that you don't have cold areas in the room.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 11:17 AM
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The room does have a ceiling fan. I have no idea why the sunroom has vinyl windows. Clearly, the first owner didn't follow the housing association's requirements.

Outside, the coldest I have seen is 29. As I said, I was getting about a 6 degree drop before putting the plastic on the windows.

It was about 40 degrees this morning. I took my thermometer from the living room (where the thermostat is) and it is 71 degrees, to the kitchen, where it is about 69 degrees, to the sunroom, where it is about 66. I'm really looking to do something about this immediately before it gets really cold out. Baseboard heating sounds like a good idea. How big of a project do you think that would be for a 14x13 room?

Do you know of any really well insulated windows for next year? I'm imagining that it is too cold to fool with windows now, since it is too cold to caulk them.

I have no idea what the former owners did for the last 15 years, but they certainly don't seem very mechanically inclined, given the state of other things we've found in the house.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 11:22 AM
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I have the same problem, don't know how to beef up the heat without it costing alot of money. I have a portable baseboard heater with a thermostat in mine right now but one is definitely not enough. I also worrry about keeping that running all the time, its not even bone chilling cold yet.
 
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Old 10-25-06, 05:19 PM
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The glass in vinyl windows can be replaced fairly easily. Assuming the glass in your windows is just a standard 3/4" clear double pane unit, you could replace the glass with either 3/4" Low E2 double pane units, or even a 3/4" triple pane unit of some type. Low E glass along with Argon or Krypton filled IGUs would improve the u-value of the window, making it more resistant to heat loss.

The only problem with doing all that is that it may not work, or it may only increase the temperature in the room slightly. Laboratory tests show that clear double pane glass (like I'm guessing you currently have) will be about 45F in the center of the glass when the temperature outside is 0F. Low E double pane glass would be about 52F in the center of the glass when the temperature outside is 0F. Adding Argon or Krypton might raise that temperature to 54F. However in your home, your results will be different because of other factors, such as leaky window frames or poor insulation in the floor, walls, or ceiling which could negate any improvement in the glass efficiency.

You could also look into thermal blanket shades which would help keep the heat from going out the windows. The only problem with that is that when you cover up the windows it isolates them, making them get colder and colder. Windows will sometimes ice up in situations like that when it gets really cold out.

We built a 12'x16' sunroom last year that is similar to what you've described... on stilts, 3 exterior walls with windows, cathedral ceiling, ceiling fan and full view exterior door. The only difference is that her patio door still separates this room from the rest of the kitchen. We installed a 16"x20" wall unit A/C-heater combo (about $800) directly across from the patio door but the lady of the house prefers to just leave a tiny space heater set to turn on if it gets too cold. She says it stays nice and toasty out there even during our cold Nebraska winters.
 
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Old 10-26-06, 08:37 PM
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I have a little space heater, but I hesitate to use it in there, given my family currently consists of a 4y, a 2 1/2 yo and a 10 month old. And 2 cats. Between the burn hazard and the fire hazard, I think I'd rather be cold for now!

We are looking to put a door in the kitchen aperture. I wonder if there's any good way to better insulate the floor from underneath so less heat is lost through the ductwork.
 
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