Worried about the cost of heating your greenhouse this winter? Rising fuel prices and extreme cold weather can add up quickly if you don’t know how to maximize every strategy that could help you cut your energy bill.
Depending on your zone, you may be able to employ some of these options longer than others. But with their help, you may only have to supplement with heaters rather than solely relying on them.
These are some of the best low-tech tips available to help you heat a greenhouse while trying to reduce your energy costs.
Paint It Black. Paint the outside of 55-gallon plastic containers with flat black enamel. Fill them with water and locate it in areas where they can absorb the most sunlight throughout the day. When the temperatures fall at night, heat emitted from the water will help keep your greenhouse warm. This technique—whether for growers with little extra space or those with smaller greenhouses (they can use gallon jugs and paint buckets)—can maintain an average of 20-30 degrees warmer in your greenhouse than outside temperatures!
Gimme Compost. Get the most out of your organic waste by creating a compost pile. Tea bags, fruit and vegetable scraps, dryer lint, newspaper, grass clippings and more can help not only provide essential nutrients to your plants, but also they can provide heat that is released during their chemical breakdown. Place your scraps and trimmings in 55-gallon drums or a ring of wire mesh. Be warned that they can create immense amounts of heat—well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit—so be aware that you use this option with safety in mind.
It’s All Over Row Covers. Garden fabric, also known as row covers, is a simple way to help turn up the heat when the weather outside demands it. Not only can row covers protect plants from cold and wind, but also they shield them from insects and prevent overheating in the summer. This fabric can be draped over hoops or secured to the ground. Row covers can be reused if handled with care, though certain styles can last much longer. Even if yours last one or two seasons, row covers are easily repurposed as weed barriers or covers during milder weather.
Seal It Up. Retain as much heat in your greenhouse by preventing as much warm air as possible from escaping. Seal all joints and gaps in the greenhouse with silicone caulking or installing weatherstripping around doors, seams of glass and at the foundation. Repair any tears in film, coverings or cracks in glass to hold on to all of your hard-earned heat! Regular maintenance like this is one of the simplest ways to help you improve the energy efficiency of your greenhouse.
Heat What You Need. Particularly for larger greenhouses, heating the entire space can get expensive quickly, but the good news is that it might not all be necessary. Separating plants into zones inside the greenhouse with partitions makes it possible to heat the needed space more efficiently. Not only is this a more economical approach, but also it provides the grower with more control over the temperatures, which helps create a more ideal environment for each plant that is grown.
Got questions about preparing your greenhouse for the winter or what works best in your zone? Let us know! Call Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.