A sunspace is a room which is designed to collect sunlight and heat. Sunspaces are also known as solar rooms, solars, solariums, and sunrooms, and they are classically included in the designs of homes, although commercial structures can have sunspaces as well. Having a sunspace can cut down substantially on heating bills; it can also make a house more enjoyable to live in and increase the resale price of a home, for people who are concerned with property values.
People have been including sunspaces in architecture for centuries. Medieval solars, for example, were used to collect sunlight and warmth to keep structures warm, and to create a pleasant place for people to work. The sunspace is a natural outgrowth of the tradition of designing homes which face the sun to collect maximum warmth and light. In the northern hemisphere, sunspaces are typically located on the south side of a structure, so that they will collect lots of sunlight over the course of the day, while structures in the southern hemisphere have sunspaces on the north side.
A typical sunspace is glassed in, so that as much light as possible will flood the room. Some have ceramic tile or concrete to increase the thermal mass of the room. Over the course of the day, the flooring gathers warmth from the sun, and at night, it releases it, warming the sunspace and the attached house. Sunspaces also have doors and windows for ventilation, as they can become suffocatingly hot on warm days.
From an energy efficient design perspective, including a sunspace is a very good idea. The structure can bring warmth and light into a house, cutting down on energy use. Solar panels can be installed on the roofing over the sunspace to gather energy and cut down on heat loss through the roof. Sunspaces can also be used to grow ornamental and edible plants, with the structure acting as a greenhouse. The plants will scrub the air, making the house feel fresher, and in the case of edible plants, they can be used to supplement an outdoor garden and trips to the grocery store.
People and pets often enjoy sunspaces from a purely aesthetic perspective. The space can be pleasant to lounge in, and many people like to eat, read, play games, and engage in other activities in their sunspaces to take advantage of the light and warmth. Homes with sunspaces tend to fetch a higher price when they are sold, as such rooms are viewed as an advertising point.