Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Adding a Three-Season Porch Could Save You Money in the Long Run

Three-season porches make a whole lot of sense. They add living space for a minimum of expense.
They give you a place to enjoy the fresh air in summer without being baked by the sun or eaten by mosquitoes or horseflies. And they let you have a semi-outdoor living experience far sooner in the spring and later in the fall than you could get otherwise. But did you know they can also reduce your winter heating bills?

A good three-season porch typically has easy-to-operate, screened windows on three sides, with the original exterior wall of the house making the fourth wall. The floor and roof are tightly built, so that when the windows are closed, there are no drafts.

Here are two ways a three-season porch can save heating fuel:

Passive Solar Heat

Direct sunlight coming through plain glass (glass that's not tinted or treated with a reflective coating) can provide a surprising amount of heat. If the angle of the sun's rays is too steep to come directly, and it reflects off snow or ice in your yard first, that works, too.

To take advantage of the passive solar potential of your three-season porch, follow these tips:
  • Locate it where the winter sun will hit the windows. Usually, this means the south side of your house.
  • Make sure there are no evergreen trees in the way that will shade the windows in the winter.
To keep your porch cooler in the summer:
  • Give it a roof with a large overhang. The sun is closer to the horizon in the winter, so a large overhang will let winter sunshine will in but keep midday summer sunshine out.
  • Locate any kiddie pools and other shiny objects where they won't reflect the sun's rays onto the windows.
  • Don't cut down deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves in the fall), unless they are endangering the house in some way. Deciduous trees are nature's air conditioners. They keep your house cool in summer, and actually clean the air while they're at it!

When you think of airlocks, you probably think of submarines, or maybe even spaceships. But airlocks are important in our houses, too. When you open your door on a winter day and go outside, a lot of warm air goes with you. But it doesn't have to. Old-time New Englanders never used to use a single door in the winter, because it wasted heat. You need to trap the air when you go in and out of your house, so the heat isn't sucked outside, and a three-season porch is a good way to do that. Other options are mudrooms and enclosed breezeways.

To use your three-season porch as an airlock in the winter, always close one door tightly before you open the other one. Teach your children to make sure the last person has come through the first door and shut it tightly before anyone opens the second door. Once they get the hang of it, it should start to come naturally.

Could your house benefit from a three-season porch?

New Hampshire Construction

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