Your home is supposed to be your castle, but what about your greenhouse? If we treated our greenhouses as well as our homes in the winter we’d have the energy bills to prove it. It doesn’t take a huge technology investment to make a big impact on your energy bills. All it takes is a little effort and a lot of common sense.
Double-check the heater. Whether you’re using hot air, oil or gas, if you don’t do the proper maintenance, you’re definitely using more fuel than you should be. Calibrate once a year and you’ll see a huge difference in your energy bill. For forced-air units, check the fuel pressure and fuel lines, clean your nozzles, adjust the pilot light, lubricate your bearings, check the valves, and ask your supplier for a full checklist or inspection.
Check your computer settings. They don’t know when it’s winter. You likely have your systems set for maximum light exposure, which is great. But forget to check or change your control settings with the season and on a cold winter day you could be caught with your windows or roofs open. It’s a great way to lose a lot of heat and an easy loss to prevent. A computer doesn’t realize that it’s better to lose a bit of light than even a little heat.
Seal it up. We’ve proved it unequivocally in our homes, and greenhouses all over Europe won’t go without them: put seals on your screens. Heat will find every little crack to make its way out of your greenhouse. You lose a surprising amount of hot air between screens, walls and coverings. It’s likely you have a vent that won’t seal tightly. And the smaller the greenhouse, the more heat you’re going to lose. It’s one of our biggest recommendations and one with the most impact.
Research roofing. Roofs are one of those things that are easy to set and forget. But unless you’ve recently retrofitted or built new construction, technology has likely come a long way since yours was installed. It used to be glass or poly, period. Now there are new glass types with lower emissivity and even double poly (celebrating its golden anniversary) gives you options for different thickness of layers to impact emissivity. Take a hard look at roofs, walls and gables—you’ll see the benefits.
Pull the curtains. One of the biggest ways to decrease your energy bill comes with energy curtains. You can cut costs by 10% to 70% depending on which curtain you choose, how it’s installed and how often you use it. It makes sense—you’re lowering the volume of air to heat and making sure the heat stays in the greenhouse. The heat is reflected back onto the crop where you need it, not up in the gutters where the plants can’t benefit. Colder geographic areas are going to two screens for maximum light and minimum heat loss, and some growers are even triple screening. Plus, they have the added appeal of quick payback: Single curtain layers often pay back in less than three years and in some cases, less than two. It’s the most efficient way to save energy.