Posted by: livesunny | December 23, 2010

Keeping your Sunroom warm in the Winter

One question that we get a lot is “How do you keep a sunroom warm when it’s snowing outside?”  There’s really several things that you need to look for when choosing your room and how to have it built.

The biggest consideration to keep your room warm in the winter is the glass.  Glass is what makes a sunroom so special.  Unfortunately, glass isn’t a great insulator so it doesn’t do much on its own to keep the heat inside and the cold outside.  The first thing to make it easier is to use “Insulated Glass”.  Insulated Glass is a glass unit that is made up of 2 pieces of glass with a spacer between.  This unit is then sealed and an airspace is created between the two pieces of glass.  That airspace acts as an insulator.  Insulated Glass (also known as Double Pane) will offer huge benefits over regular or Single Pane glass.  Another option with glass is the different glass options.  There are more tints, films, & coatings for glass than you can imagine and many of these are designed to help prevent heat transfer.  Put simply, heat transfer is just what it sounds like, the transfer of heat from one side of the glass (inside your room) to the other side (outside).  Some are not much better than plain glass while some offer a tremendous improvement.  Glass like Four Seasons Sunrooms’ ConservaGlass actually uses several coatings which keeps the temperature inside your room more comfortable for a longer period of time.  A high quality glass such as ConservaGlass will help keep your room more enjoyable during the cold winter months.

Something else to keep in mind when planning your sunroom is some kind of Heat & Air Conditioning.  No matter how good your glass is, your room will eventually get cold in the winter.  Many of us have experienced power outages in the winter that prevent electric heat pumps from keeping our homes warm.  Even those of us with gas or oil heat have probably experienced those first cool nights in the beginning of the season before we switch the thermostat over.  Even a home that’s fully insulated with no windows will get cold in the winter without a heater.  A sunroom is no different.  A separate HVAC system is a great investment that will pay off in a much more comfortable and useable room.  There are many systems today that can keep your room comfortable while being small and affordable.  If you’re looking at a sunroom, ask your contractor what they suggest.  Make sure you keep your climate in mind as well.  An actual Heat Pump will be a much better idea if you get really cold temperatures in the winter.

With a well planned & constructed sunroom, you can get a lot of enjoyment from your room in the winter.  Many of us are fortunate enough to have experienced those winter days where get to watch our children or wildlife play in the snow while staying nice and toasty in our sunroom.  Even better is a magical White Christmas with a tree in your sunroom and snow on the ground.  If you’d like some more info on a great Sunroom of your own, let us know:

Happy Holidays!

Posted by: livesunny | November 15, 2010

Beat Winter’s effects with a Spa

Winter is almost here and we’re already starting to get hit with it’s effects.  Even with the 60 degree days that we’ve been having the last few days, you can already feel the Winter aches coming on.  Increased arthritis pain and just plain being cold are things that we have to battle during the winter months.  The cold dreary weather can even put us in a bad mood.  Spas can make a dramatic difference in how you feel when you’re combating low temperatures.

Many of us have to fight with arthritis everyday and it’s no surprise that we start feeling more pain and have a harder time with our joints once the temperature starts dropping.  The heat therapy provided by soaking in a spa every day can make a tremendous improvement on how we feel and make it easier for us to do the activities that are often just too painful.  The buoyancy experienced by the water in hot tubs (which is increased with the bubbles created when jets are running) decreases our effective body weight which eases tension put on our joints.  The hot water also helps our blood vessels to dilate and increase our blood flow.  This increased blood flow can reduce inflammation.

Of course there’s nothing better in the winter than getting warm after working outside, playing in the snow, or even just walking inside from the drive home.  If you’ve never experienced the magic that is sitting in a hot tub while the snow is falling, you’re missing out.  Hopping in a hot tub and relaxing when it’s cold outside is an entirely new experience.

Winter can be downright dreary sometimes.  Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on our mood & attitude.  One of the most interesting benefits to using a spa is that soaking in the hot water releases natural endorphins.  Using a spa in the winter months will not only leave you physically feeling better but it can help mentally as well.  After a long day of work, many of us can use some “boosting”.  What better way to do that than to hop in your hot tub and let the hot water & jets work out your day’s aches & pains?

Posted by: livesunny | February 24, 2010

Save Money with new Windows!

One of the easiest and most energy saving upgrades that we can do to our homes is upgrading the windows.  Old windows are hard to open, have air leaks, & just look terrible.  That whistling sound that you hear when it’s windy outside is air coming into your house through those windows.  The temperature drop that you experience walking in front of one of your windows in the winter time is your heating bill going up!  Let’s face it, houses settle, wood rots, paint chips, and, half the time, the windows that we have weren’t the best to begin with.

Old windows can make for a costly energy loss each month.  Unfortunately, many people never notice because the change is gradual.  A dollar here or there over the years adds up pretty quickly.  An old leaky or inefficient window is like leaving your refrigerator door standing wide open all day and night.  Now think about how many windows you have in your house.  How many refrigerator doors do you have standing open?  Luckily, this is an easy fix.  Window replacements are one of the best upgrades that you can do to your home.  Not only will you save energy immediately but your home value goes up as well!  It’s a win-win situation for you.

When choosing a replacement window, there’s a few things that you should know.  There’s a lot of good window companies out there with good products but it can get confusing with everyone advertising why theirs is better.  First of all, forget about the replacement windows you see in the newspaper or on tv in the morning.  You’re probably better off with your existing windows.  You have to remember that every company out there is in business to make money.  Once you take all the costs of buying, selling, & installing windows into account, you’re talking about a window that costs $30-40 for that company to buy.  How good of a window do you think you can really get for that?  In my opinion, not very.  Just remember the old mantra:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

One of your most common differences in replacement windows is the material that it’s made out of.  You have three primary materials:  wood, vinyl, & a wood/vinyl composite.  Wood is pretty simple.  It’s what many people already have so we’re used to it.  It looks good and is strong.  Unfortunately, wood rots and requires maintenance.  The wood/vinyl composite is fairly new and is primarily in higher-end windows.  It gets rid of some of the maintenance but isn’t as strong and can get pretty expensive.  Since it’s made from what’s basically dust, consistency can be an issue in lower end windows.  Vinyl is pretty well known now for replacement windows because it’s maintenance free and can provide great insulation value but there are different levels of vinyl used.  While we all want to be green, recycled vinyl isn’t the greatest for our windows.  Recycled vinyl isn’t very strong so multiple layers are needed.  It also fades over time so your replacement windows will need to be replaced.  Virgin vinyl is the other alternative and is one of the best choices.  It doesn’t fade and is stronger than recycled vinyl.  You also don’t have to worry about rot or maintenance.  It can also be used in multiple layers or channels like recycled vinyl as well so your insulation value can be very high.

Another feature that separates windows is the kind of glass used.  If you’re buying replacement windows, you don’t want anything other than double-pane insulated glass.  Single pane glass just offers no benefit unless you literally just have a hole in the wall.  Many companies offer coatings or glass additives that can make a big impact.  Low-E glass helps to block ultraviolet radiation so it does a much better job of keeping the sun’s heat out in the summer.  Most window manufacturer’s “specialty” glass is just low-e glass combined with a tint of some kind.  Make sure to find out exactly what you’re getting.

So how do you know exactly what you’re getting?  Ask about it.  When you have companies come out to give you a quote, tell them that you want to see a window sample.  How sturdy is it?  How heavy is it?  We tend to associate heavy with quality and windows are one area where that’s true.  A heavy vinyl window is very likely to be a better window than a light vinyl window.  Does the window hold it’s shape if you push on it?  If not, how well built do you really think it is?  Also tell the person giving you a quote that you want to see a corner sample.  This will show you how the window is built.  Vinyl windows should have a LOT of hollow pockets in the frame.  The more pockets, the better it’s going to be at insulating your home from what’s outside both in temperature AND noise.  Can you warp the frame at all?  Again, this is a sign of a poorly built window.  Finally, tell the window rep. that you want a glass demonstration.  This SHOULD involve a heat lamp and a few different glass samples.  This will show you how well the glass that’s going in your windows performs.  Feel how much heat is coming through the glass.  You should be able to hold your hand directly in front of the glass and heat lamp without any discomfort.

Well, I hope this helps a bit.  Personally, I’ve never been more impressed with any windows more than the new windows from Four Seasons Sunrooms but whoever you choose, make sure you’re getting the right window for your home.

Posted by: livesunny | December 22, 2009

Choosing a Sunroom for your home – The Glass

If you’re considering adding a new Sunroom to your home, there are a lot of things that can make a big difference in your overall enjoyment and the usability of that room.  A little consideration of your wants & needs will help you find the best choice for your new addition.  With so many choices & so many manufacturers out there, a little education can go a long way as well.

The first question that you really need to ask yourself is what you want to do with the room and figure out what your expectations are.  Most Sunroom manufacturers offer a year-round Sunroom but many also offer what’s called a three-seasons room.  The three-seasons room is going to be single pane glass and often will have less insulation than the year round rooms.  If you want a room that you can use comfortably in the middle of the summer or winter, you’ll want to go with a year-round room that has insulated glass.  You’ll also want to consider adding a HVAC system to your new room.   Sunrooms have completely different heating & cooling needs than the rest of your house so your best option is going to be having a separate unit or zone just for the room.  We offer a separate Heat Pump for most of rooms that has it’s own thermostat that can be left on year round to keep your room comfortable.

Every Sunroom company out there has it’s own glass and everyone is going to discuss how great this glass is.  For the most part, it is great but most of it is NOT special.  The very large majority of Sunroom glass is going to have a few things in common.  Unless you choose a single-pane three-season room, the glass in your room is going to be insulated.  Insulated glass is two pieces of glass that have a spacer in between them (typically some kind of metal) which is then sealed as one unit.  One of the biggest differences in your new Sunroom is what KIND of glass is used.  Most companies have a special name for their glass but often, this “special” glass is just standard clear insulated glass.  Some companies will use tinted glass or Low-E glass to help with heat transfer.  As about U-Value and find out how the glass actually performs.  Four Seasons Sunrooms has a great resource to show typical Glass properties at  You want to make sure that the glass you’re getting is going to help keeping your room comfortable.  Glass that has a low U-value & high R-Value is going to make conditioning your room much easier.

Finally, ask about the warranty.  Everyone knows that sometimes, things just happen.  What happens if your glass fails and fogs up?  What happens if you decide to sell your house and want to assure the new buyer that they won’t have to worry about replacing expensive failed glass?  Many companies out there offer a “Lifetime” warranty but the details are what matters.  Most of these warranties only have full coverage for a few years and you will have to pay something for that glass if it all fails in five years (note:  this is pretty unlikely with any good quality glass).  Make sure that the company you’re considering is proud of their product and is willing to stand behind it with a real warranty.  Four Seasons Sunrooms covers their glass with a lifetime warranty that covers the glass at 100% for 20 years and is transferable to a new homeowner.  A warranty like this gives you more piece of mind and adds even more to your home’s value for a potential buyer.

So remember, when you’re looking to add a new Sunroom addition to your home, find out what you’re really getting.  Don’t just take the salesperson’s word for it, ask for some literature and see how they really compare.  Have them give you a demonstration of the glass with a heat lamp to see how it performs.  Last, don’t forget to read up on the company and see how they compare.

Posted by: livesunny | December 1, 2009

Welcome to The Sunny Life!

SunLife Showroom

SunLife's Home Office in Hickory NC

Welcome to “The Sunny Life”.  This blog is meant to be a place where we can share ideas, tips, & answers with homeowners that are looking to improve their home and make it into their own personal paradise!  Why go on vacation when you can relax right at home?

We are a small, family owned & operated company in North Carolina that specializes in “Life Improvement” home improvements.  Started in 1981, we have grown to be the largest & oldest Sunroom & Spa company in the Carolinas.  This experience has taught us a great deal and we hope that we can share some of this experience with those who are looking to do some of these Lifestyle Home Improvements.  While we do specialize in Sunrooms & Spas, we carry a lot more than that to help our customers make the most of their homes.  We’ll be sharing tips & ideas not only about Sunrooms & Spas but also Saunas, Grills, Furniture, recipes, landscaping, & more!

We hope that you’re able to gather some great information here but we hope that you’ll share it with us as well!  We love to hear from others so please feel free to comment or email with your ideas & questions.

– Dave @ SunLife