Sunrooms go by many names: solarium, sun porch, or patio room to name a few. No matter what you call your sunroom, you most likely love the way the large open windows and the ample sunlight that fills the room.
Sunrooms provide a sheltered area where you can enjoy the warmth of the sun without worrying about allergy-causing pollen, bugs, or rain. But what happens at the height of summer when all that sunshine turns your sunroom into a sauna?
Many homeowners simply avoid their sunroom during the extra hot months. There are other options that will allow you to enjoy your sunroom year-round.
How To Keep Your Sunroom Cool This Summer
1. Install Blinds in Your Sunroom
Why would you want to install blinds in a room that is meant to have open windows and ample sunlight? Don’t they defeat the purpose of a room meant for the sun?
Yes and no.
It is true that blinds will cover the windows of your sunroom, but only when you want them to. If it is a particularly sunny day and the temperature outside is climbing during the late morning, by mid-afternoon your sunroom is going to feel more like a sauna.
To prevent this from happening you can pull the blinds on the windows that are receiving the most direct sunlight.
Doing this will lower the amount of heat coming through the windows and keep your sunroom cooler. You can also use insulated curtains, or blackout curtains if it is a particularly bright and hot day.
Pulling the curtains during peak sun hours will keep out the heat from the sun’s rays and keep the room cooler. You can always open them when the sun and the temperature have lowered.
2. Insulate or Tint the Windows
When you opted to have a sunroom you should have ensured that your windows were Energy Star certified and hopefully double-paned.
These types of windows are insulated to prevent heat loss in the winter and also reduce excess heat coming in during the summer. Add an additional layer to your windows by tinting them.
This will block heat from entering by limiting some of the sunlight that can come through the windows. Tinting your windows does reduce the clarity of the window so if you enjoy your sunroom because of the view it provides, window tinting may not be the best option for you.
3. Take Advantage of Airflow
Keeping any area cool requires that you have continuous airflow. Your sunroom is no exception.
Unfortunately, many sunrooms are limited in their airflow due to design failures. But just like any other room, a sunroom needs ample airflow to keep the living area comfortable.
An exhaust fan or air vents should be installed in the ceiling to allow the hot air to escape. The exhaust fan will be more efficient at pulling the hot air upward and forcing it out of the room.
You can also install small fans along with the floors and corners of the sunroom. These can be angled upward to push even more hot air up and provide more natural air circulation.
A final way to create constant airflow is to add a ceiling fan, or two.
Ceiling fans naturally move air throughout a room and depending upon the direction that the blades are spinning can shift hot air upwards and cool air throughout the room.
4. HVAC Zoning System
If you have tried other options and your sunroom is still too warm to enjoy, it may be time to consider a zoned HVAC system.
HVAC zoning is the process of separating your heating and cooling system so that it delivers different comfort levels to each area of your home.
This means that rather than running your cooling system continuously in an attempt to lower the temperature in your sunroom, you can set the sunroom temperature independent of the rest of your house.
So while you may like to keep your entire home at approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you can set your sunroom to closer to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
This will allow you to cool the sunroom but not try to bring it to as low of a temperature as the rest of your house as this would be quite a bit of work for your HVAC system and would significantly increase your cooling bill.
HVAC zoning uses a series of dampers that are installed in your ducts or air vents.
These can be opened or closed in order to deliver airflow to each part of your home.
Every zone should have its own thermostat so that you can keep the temperature set to your liking.
Having a zoned system installed will require a professional, which means it will cost more upfront than other cooling options.
However, a zoned HVAC system provides better energy efficiency which is a beneficial upgrade for any home.
With more control over the temperature specific to your sunroom you can keep your utility bill lower and your sunroom much cooler.
5. Install a Ductless Mini-Split, Portable or Window Air Conditioner
If you are unable to update your current central air cooling system to a zoned system or if you do not have central air conditioning, you can use a ductless mini-split system in your sunroom.
This system consists of an outdoor condenser and indoor fan unit. The indoor unit mounts to the wall and is connected to the condenser through a conduit.
Ductless mini-splits are liked by many homeowners who want to cool just a specific area of their home such as a sunroom.
A ductless mini-split is noiseless because the condenser is outside and it does not require new ductwork.
Another option is to install a window air conditioning unit. Window cooling units are efficient forms of cooling and are less expensive than mini-split units.
However, they are noisier since the compressor is in the unit rather than outside like the ductless mini-split.
Finally, a portable unit could be an option if your windows cannot fit a window air conditioning unit.
Unfortunately, portable units are much less efficient than ductless mini-split and window air conditioning units.
They are also noisy and take up extra space in the room.
6. Add an Outdoor Awning
If your sunroom is a south-facing room and gets sunlight for the majority of the day you can always add an outdoor awning.
An outdoor awning shades the side of the sunroom and reduces the amount of sun that is able to come through the windows. While the awning will reduce the direct glare of the sun it will allow some sun to brighten the sunroom.
Large outdoor awnings are installed right on the side of the house and can be opened and closed manually or through a remote. They can be purchased at a local store or can be purchased and installed by a manufacturer.
These do completely shade the side of the house so there will be a large reduction in the amount of sun that enters through the sunroom windows.
Reducing the heat in your sunroom can be accomplished by adding cooling systems, increasing airflow, or reducing the amount of sunlight that comes in through the windows.
You can choose just one method of reducing heat or a combination of all three depending upon the amount of sunlight and heat that enters your sunroom.