Outdoor Comfort in the UK

May 5, 2020 summer-picto

Garden areas have become aspirational areas to relax and unwind. We develop imagery in our minds of endless summer days laughing and enjoying our outdoor areas but the reality in the UK is that on many days we still require additional space heating when the sun goes down. Just to put it into context, the temperature range in the southern areas of the UK in the warmest months, July and August, is a high of around 21oC dropping to around 12oC at night. In the months around that the temperature very rarely stays above 10oC for a full 24hrs and also very rarely peaks above 20oC and there are also only about 4 months of the year that have no frost recorded. As we travel further north the temperature is usually even lower.

Homes with high glazing and low insulation

Due to the unpredictability of our weather and the wish to enjoy the garden many homes have areas of high glazing, and therefore low insulation, such as conservatories, orangeries and garden rooms, where comfort heating realistically requires a different approach. A well insulated, draught restricted, home will hold heat in its thermal mass whilst the open area does not  So we ideally need to use heaters that target the air and defined areas for best effect. This type of heating needs to be instant and should be focussed on people, or targeted areas, and therefore a lot lower energy is required.

How to boost the temperature

Air to air heat pumps and room air conditioning units can be used to boost the temperature at specific times and in specific areas. Where there is a large glass window or glass wall, the indoor units can be strategically placed above the frames to act as air curtains and also reduce any condensation risk. The action of the heaters also acts to combat the effects of condensation on the glass by partially dehumidifying the air as it passes through the wall unit, thus keeping the air moving and lowering the resultant dew point. The primary heating system in the home can be set to background heat in those rooms and the supplementary air-to-air systems can be used to boost the temperature when a rapid rise (or drop) is required.

Modern homes with floor heating

In modern homes, especially those with under floor heating, the central heating system is set up to deliver a uniform heat to the whole house at predetermined temperatures. Any variation to the temperature will be slow, as the thermal mass of the floor will need to either heat up or cool down accordingly. In rooms occupied by the elderly or infirm, there may well be a need for more reactive heating. They may require heat when the central heating would not normally be on in the whole house or perhaps require higher room temperatures than those in the rest of the home during the heating season. In this scenario it can also be prudent to install room air conditioning units as they will not only deliver instant heat in winter and instant cooling in summer but will also benefit in dehumidifying the room at times of prolonged occupancy.