If you are considering an office in your garden, understanding its function and usability is important. If you’re using the room as a home workspace, chances are you’ll need access to a comfortable and productive environment 365 days a year.
A lot of people wonder whether garden offices are suitable for all-year round use, especially in the depths of winter and height of summer (albeit not much of a problem in the UK!)
So, can a garden office be used all year round?
Yes! If the structure is well-built and properly insulated, it can definitely be used all year round. A garden office shouldn’t be built with anything else in mind.
Garden Office Insulation Overview
A garden office should feel just as habitable as a room inside your main homeand should not be compared to sheds and log cabins that serve different functions and are made from a different range of materials.
Insulation really is the major factor when it comes to creating a year-round space. A properly insulated garden office will keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Additionally, proper insulation will reduce noise transmission and provide the necessary soundproofing that a home office requires.
If you’re interested in learning more, we discuss more about “U-values” later in this article. It’s a bit boring, but important if you want to know more about the thermal performance of your space.
Heating a garden office in the Winter
If your garden office is properly insulated, you should be able to heat it relatively cheaply in the winter. The following table shows the most popular forms of heating which are all more than capable of heating a garden office :
|Electric Convection Heater||Instant heat|
Some have timer feature
|Area surrounding heater needs to be clear from obstruction|
Prolonged use can dry out the air
Not always silent
Can be expensive to run
|Oil Filled Radiators||Energy efficient and cheap to run|
Consumes less electricity than traditional electric convection heater
Great for large garden offices
Continues to heat room when turned off
|Not instant heat; can take up to 15 minutes to heat up a room|
Larger footprint than electric convection heater
Heavy and harder to move
|Underfloor heating||Energy efficient|
Full flexibility over location of furniture as zero footprint
Most safe and comfortable option
|Needs to be fitted during the building of garden office|
Higher installation cost
In our opinion, we believe that the last two options are the best. An oil-filled radiator is perfect for a garden office if you’re on a budget and want reliable heat during the winter. Underfloor heating is probably the most comfortable and reliable option but it comes with a price.
Keeping a garden office cool in the summer
To keep a garden office cool, you could do some of the following things
- Invest in a fan or portable AC unit
- Open windows and doors
- Use curtain or blinds to block sunlight
- Keep appliance use to a minimum, e.g. if you have a TV or extra monitor in your garden office, try to turn these off on hot days to reduce heat emission
Thankfully this isn’t too much of a problem in the UK as there will only be a few days a year that exceed 30 degrees or so. These options above will be ample solutions to keeping your garden office cool and productive.
In construction, U-values are used to measure the insulation quality of elements that make up a building. The more effective a material is at preventing heat from transmitting between the inside and outside of a building, the lower its U-value.
Over the years, UK Building Regulations have lowered U-value requirements for buildings, highlighting greater awareness of sustainability as energy prices rise. These adjustments have required supply chains to meet new demands for better-insulating materials.
U-values are measured in watts per square metre per kelvin (W/(m²K)).
For example, a double glazed window with a U-value of 2.8, for every degree difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the window, 2.8 watts will be transmitted every square metre.
If you’re buying a garden office off-the-shelf, most suppliers will display the u-value of their buildings in their specification sheet.
These are the typical elements that will have their own overall u-values in a garden office:
- Windows and doors
Combining each layer that makes up the above elements will bring a total u-value for that element i.e. the floor of a garden office will have a total u-value calculated from the sum of u-values from the materials/layers that make up the floor.
To be clear, the total u-value of the floor, for example, is not just made up of the u-value of the insulation that’s used on the floor, it’s made up of the accumulation of u-values for all the materials that make up the floor, e.g. flooring, underlay, foundation base layer, insulation etc.
This is where it’s easy to compare the poor insulative properties of something like a shed or log cabin with a properly built garden office or garden room. The walls and ceiling of a shed/log cabin will be made nearly entirely of wood, which has decent thermal properties, but is inferior when compared to a garden office with multiple layers of insulation, cavities, air pockets and timber holding it all together.
Kingspan, one of the largest suppliers of insulation, wrote a great article about u-values and insulation requirements in the UK. Check out the article here.
A properly built garden office can absolutely be used all year round. You should never compromise on materials, especially insulation, and ensure that the U-value for each component of the build meets your local council’s requirement.
All of our Garden Office Buildings come with underfloor heating as standard, as we believe it is the most comfortable and practical method of heating a garden office.
Our buildings are also built with structural insulated panels (SIPs) that have superior insulating properties.