You might be getting whopping energy bills at the end of winter, for keeping you greenhouse hot and warm. Your expenses can be vastly reduced if you take a few precautions. Making small changes may turn out to have a huge impact on your energy bill. The changes you have to implement might cost a little, or even if they cost more, they will be an investment for the future. Here are some tips which will make greenhouse energy efficient and give you relief from huge power bills.
13 Tips to make greenhouse energy efficient
1. Check the heater
As you know, the heater has a high power requirement. If you check your heater from time to time, the heater will be operating on optimum efficiency and using less fuel. Even if you calibrate just once every year, you will find a huge difference in your fuel bill. If you have a forced air unit, check the fuel lines and pressure, clean the nozzles, adjust pilot light, lubricate bearings and check the valves periodically.
2. Tune your control system
Though computers are great at maintaining the greenhouse, they will never be able to figure out when the weather has changed. You have to be the one to change the settings according to the season. This will make greenhouse energy efficient, and by observing whether ventilation fans are running when the heat is also on, you can spot that you have to change the settings. No need to call a technical expert for that observation!
3. Seal all screens
In order to save electricity, you should ideally put seals on the screens. Sealing will make greenhouse energy efficient, as it will prevent heat loss, just as sealing the windows helps to minimize heat escaping from your home. Seal every nook and cranny to prevent heat loss.
4. Repair the leaks
You might have noticed air flow in your greenhouse. This means that there is cold air coming from outside and heat escaping from various holes, cracks and openings in the roof and walls.
When winter sets in, repair the tiniest holes everywhere you find them, and you will be amazed to see the difference it makes to your heating bill. All you need is some caulk and spray foam and sharp eyes to do the necessary repairs. Inexpensive repairs lead to less heating cost and can reduce heating bill by 5-10%. Check the metal frames and posts too and cover then with insulation so that the metal does not allow heat to flow outside.
5. Place objects with thermal mass in your greenhouse
One of the best tips to make greenhouse energy efficient is placing/using objects like rocks, bricks, clay etc within the greenhouse, as these materials absorb heat and keep the greenhouse warm. Water has good thermal mass too. So to take advantage of free heat, make the raised beds with brick or stone and place black water barrels around them. This will help to reduce the power requirement of your greenhouse.
6. Use double paned glass/windows
To save electricity in areas where it is extremely cold, you should install double-paned glass windows. These windows are very energy efficient and have the capacity to trap the sun’s heat. If double-paned windows are beyond your budget, then use a recycled clear plastic film to get the same effect.
7. Use a thermal screen
Usually, the coverings available for greenhouses are clear as they let the sunlight in. But clear panels are very poor insulators, causing heat loss. In order to make greenhouse energy efficient, cover the walls and roof with thermal screens which can be moved. These screens are a good investment for all weather, as they provide thermal insulation in winter and shade from excess sunlight in summer. The reduction in heating cost can be as much as 30-40% with the use of thermal screens.
8. Check the louvers
You should check the louvers of the ventilation fans. If they are bent or malfunction, then they will not work as well as they should. They have to be repaired to prevent air leakage with foam insulation when the fans are not required during winter.
9. Insulate the perimeter
A spot where the heat is lost is the perimeter of your greenhouse – through the bottom portion of the greenhouse’s sidewall and via the ground. Get less heating cost by installing insulated board which extends from the top of the greenhouse till the soil all along your greenhouse’s perimeter. This will make greenhouse energy efficient too.
10. Make compost
You must have seen and felt the heat generated in compost. By making compost inside the greenhouse, you will get the natural heat generated by it. Besides, you won’t have to go out to get fertilizer in the blistering cold, when it is right there in front of you! Make the paths inside the greenhouse from wood mulch and mulch the beds as well which will add to the heat generated by your compost pile.
11. Change the roofing/walls if possible
If your roof/walls are outdated, then do some research on the various types of roofs available for greenhouses. There are many new types of roofs such as double poly, glass roof with low emissivity, glass roofs with many layers and so on. It will be an investment but you will get your return steadily over time in the form of reduced power bills. Changing to energy efficient roof and walls will make greenhouse energy efficient, much more than before.
12. Check the north wall
North walls in greenhouses let in very little light, especially in winter. It could be cost-effective to cover it with a white insulating board to cut heat loss. The white color will reflect sunlight and make the greenhouse brighter too.
13. Use the ‘Virtual Grower’
If you are based in the US, you can use this software which can be downloaded for free, to calculate the impact different components like weather, crops, walls, roof, location, heating schedule have on the energy use. This will help immensely in creating and maintaining an energy efficient greenhouse.
If you love your greenhouse and love low energy bills too, then check out the various grants offered by the government such as REAP (in US), to help in making the more expensive changes. Otherwise, just making the required repairs will keep your greenhouse in top shape to give you reduced energy bills.