Minnesotans love their porches and sun rooms, so they're certainly missed in the cooler months as temperatures begin to plummet during late fall and winter. Not to mention they’re a common source of heat loss from our homes. So winterizing your three-season porch is a good idea as cold weather approaches. How far you take that process depends on your goals for using that room. Here are some ideas for what will work best to winterize your 3 season porch.
Three-Season vs. Four-Season Porches
Sometimes there can be confusion over just what is meant by a three-season vs. four-season porch or sunroom. These basic definitions should help:
- Three-season. Designed for use in spring, summer, and fall, these rooms are not connected to your HVAC system and the amount of insulation they have is often little to none.
- Four-season. An insulated room that adheres to the same building codes as any standard add-on. It may or may not be connected to your HVAC system. If not, it usually has some form of supplemental heating and cooling.
Quick and Easy Winterizing Fixes
If your goal is simply to save on heating costs and prevent heat loss, there are a number of simple steps you can take to winterize your porch:
- Be sure all your windows are securely closed and locked.
- Replace worn weather stripping.
- Fill any cracks around windows and doors.
- Cover your windows and unused doors with plastic.
- Place draft stoppers along the bottom of doors — and even windows, if they face in toward the rest of the living space.
If you’re looking to extend the use of your three-season porch — or even turn it into an all-season porch, you’ll need to look at adding insulation. That would include the ceiling, walls, and underneath the porch floor. That doesn’t all have to be done at once, and some homeowners start with underneath the floor, which is where there’s a lot of heat loss. If you’re a DIYer and have good access to under the floor, here’s a great video that explains the steps you’ll need to take.
Insulating your porch walls and ceiling may require more specialized work that is probably best left to the pros. To find a company that specializes in that type of work, do an Internet search on “home insulation” and your ZIP code. Home Advisor is also a good resource. Most companies will be glad to come out, consult with you on your goals, and provide an estimate and time frame for getting the work done.
Ductless Heating System
If you’ve fully insulated your porch but still need some extra heat, it may be time to look at installing a ductless heating system— also called a mini-split system. The design of these systems have improved drastically in the last few years and have become cheaper and easier to install. They’re also inconspicuous and blend well with almost any home interior. Carrier offers some great options, backed by their 100-plus years of experience.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that some ductless units do not provide much heat in subzero weather, some provide very little below 32-degrees fahrenheit and none in subzero. So it's important to make sure you’re getting one that provides heat when you want it. Whether you're extending your three-season porch to a three-and-a-half-season, or trying heat it year round, make sure you select one that meets your needs.
Need a reliable HVAC pro to discuss your winterizing or heating options? Use our convenient dealer locator.