Have you enjoyed the hot summer days and the balmy summer evenings in the garden? Wouldn't it be wonderful to extend the summer just like that? With a winter garden (or glazed balcony) you can enjoy the sun, nature and tranquillity in a relaxed way, even in the colder half of the year, without freezing or getting wet. What should you look out for and how much should you expect to pay?
With a winter garden, you enlarge your house by more than just a room. In winter, you can sit outside, soak up the sun and read, drink, work or do nothing in the natural light. In summer, a winter garden balances out the temperature in the adjoining rooms and ensures lower temperatures throughout the house. It also protects the house façade from the weather and improves the energy balance of older houses as additional thermal insulation.
A cold winter garden appears particularly light and transparent thanks to its frameless and mobile glass walls with aluminium profiles that are not thermally separated. It protects you from wind and weather in summer, but is not heated. That's why you can only use it in winter as long as the sun shines longer and the air in the winter garden heats up to room temperature. You cannot use it as an additional living space all year round. However, you can safely overwinter your frost-sensitive garden plants or potted plants in your winter garden.
Most partially insulated winter gardens today have framed sliding or folding wall sashes with profiles that are slightly thermally separated and can be opened over a large area. You sit as if you were outside when the sun shines and you open the glass wings, but you are safe from rain and storms as soon as the weather turns. The partially insulated winter garden is heated to a maximum of 10 degrees. This is enough for it to warm up to room temperature as soon as the sun shines in winter. Because the winter garden is only lightly heated, you do not have to comply with any additional thermal insulation regulations.
A warm winter garden is additional living space. It is heated to 15 to 20 degrees in winter, often with underfloor heating, so that you can use it as a dining room, home office or living room all year round. Because the room is heated, the winter garden must meet higher standards for glazing and sealing. Triple glazing with a thermal insulation value of 0.4 to 0.8 W/m²K and fully insulated profiles for living room glazing make sense. In addition, ground work and a foundation are often necessary. This is why warm winter gardens are more expensive than other winter gardens.
Especially in winter, the orientation is crucial. For optimal sunlight, the winter garden should face south. If it faces east, you will enjoy the sun and its warmth in the morning, and if it faces west, you will enjoy it in the evening. If you orient the winter garden to the south because you want to store solar heat, you need sufficient storage mass in the winter garden. For example, solid walls or natural stone or ceramic floors that are directly irradiated by the sun, warm up and store the sun's heat.
*The lower the insulation value or U-value, the better the thermal insulation of the glazing.
In summer, it can get hot in the winter garden. A winter garden needs sun protection, which is sensibly installed in front of the glass. For example, blinds or sun blinds. Or trees and shrubs that provide natural shade. Inside, you can additionally shade a winter garden with slat blinds, light roller blinds or fabric curtains. If you want to glaze the roof, it is worth considering solar control glass, which slows down the temperature rise in summer. On the other hand, it takes longer in winter for the winter garden to be comfortably warm. That's why it makes sense to at least partially cover the roof with other building materials that insulate well.
Heat accumulates in a winter garden. This can lead to condensation that damages the floor, the construction, the furniture or the plants. That's why you need a ventilation concept. The winter garden should be able to be opened extensively on two or preferably more sides. With flaps in the glass roof, ventilation slides in the side walls or a gap and frame ventilation, you ensure a regular exchange of air and a pleasant indoor climate in the winter garden.
An electric motor for the sun protection is particularly useful for larger winter gardens. Today, there are controls that, for example, extend and retract the blinds or awnings depending on the brightness and temperature, retract them immediately in the event of strong wind or optimally adjust the slat angle depending on the incidence of light. Many of these functions can be easily programmed and automated with scenarios or controlled via a smartphone app, even remotely.
LED spotlights have proven their worth as lighting. Lamps made of robust and brushed aluminium that you can swivel and, if necessary, also dim make sense. LED spots are energy-efficient, in contrast to low-voltage tension systems, which are also often used in winter gardens, because they are light and easier to install. If you want to light your winter garden with floor lamps, you should think about the placement of the sockets when planning.
All structures that are firmly connected to the ground require a permit. You therefore need a building permit for your winter garden. You must also take into account the border distances and building line distances. The best thing to do is to ask at the building authority of the municipality whether a simplified procedure is possible without public notice and display. For this, you usually need a written declaration of consent from the neighbours.
Do you own a condominium and want to build a winter garden in the garden or glaze your balcony? You need the agreement of the condominium owners' association because a winter garden or glazed balcony changes the overall appearance of the house and therefore affects the interests of the other co-owners. You must submit a motion to the condominium owners' meeting.
The costs depend on size, material and finishing. For most winter gardens you need a foundation, glazing, at least one sliding door, a sunshade and, if necessary, a railing. A small winter garden without extras costs at least CHF 20,000. The foundation alone for a 15 square metre area costs plus/minus 6,000 francs. Per square metre of glass area you should reckon with 1200 francs or more. In addition, there are costs for the sliding door(s), the sun protection and the control system. The price scale is open at the top.
In hot August, the main thing is to provide all the plants with enough water. But there is more work to do in the garden and on the balcony.
If you want to sustainably reduce your energy consumption, you should take a closer look at your heating system.