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Greenhouse Supplies

GARDENING: Heating & Cooling

Heating:

Heating your greenhouse in the cooler months can really take a bite out of your utility budget. Upgrading to green energy-conscious fixtures is always a great way to reduce your energy bills in the greenhouse but adding and updating equipment fixtures and controls can be costly. What greenhouse heating options are available to the frugal greenhouse gardener?

  1. Stored energy. Storing energy for later consumption is far from a new idea. But putting this concept to work in the greenhouse is a great way to save money on your utility costs. Many greenhouse gardeners fill 55-gallon drums with water and place them in an area of the greenhouse where the sun will warm the water throughout the day. The drums then release the stored heat throughout the cooler nighttime hours, effectively heating most greenhouses in milder climates for little to no additional cost.
  2. Solar heating. Adding solar panels may at first seem to fall into the category of “too expensive to save money”. However, many U.S. states are now offering tax incentives for installing solar panels in a home or business to help reduce energy consumption and costs. Check to see if your state is offering incentives and you may end up getting your solar panels for next to nothing or at least a fraction of the original retail cost.
  3. Automatic temperature control. Installing a thermostat in the greenhouse can help you better regulate your heating costs by allowing you to keep a constant pre-set temperature in the greenhouse throughout cooler days and nights. This temperature can be set at just a few degrees above the lowest temperature your crops will tolerate, and still be enough to get you through until the warmer months.
  4. Get creative. Getting creative with ways to heat your greenhouse for less can mean running your home’s hot water pipes through the greenhouse to help with heating costs, cutting down sunlight blocking trees and shrubbery, or installing insulated panels or shade cloths to help hold in heat accumulated during the day.

When it comes to greenhouse heating options for the frugal greenhouse gardener, every little bit helps. Look into ways to store energy from the sun, discounts on solar panels and energy efficient heaters, automated temperature control devices, and other creative ways to help save money when heating your greenhouse this winter.

Winter Greenhouse Heating Tips

  • Keep a log of all maintenance on the heating system, including dates of the first use for the season and all repairs
  • Place greenhouse fans so they help circulate heat from the greenhouse ceiling to the floor during winter months.]
  • Install an alarm system to alert you of smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide build up in the greenhouse. Greenhouse heaters can give off toxic fumes or catch fire if they malfunction
  • Most plants will continue to thrive at a minimal temperature of 44 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean all greenhouse glass (if you have glass covering) to allow for maximum sunlight penetration during winter months
  • Always keep a backup heating plan in place in case of heater failure. This can be extremely useful should your heater go bad on a weekend or over the holidays when calling a repairman will be costly or impossible.
  • Purchase a weather station with an ice alert to notify you if the temperature falls below freezing. It also is a convenient way to monitor the temperature of your greenhouse from the comfort of your home.
  • Seal off any unused portions of the greenhouse during winter months to reduce heating costs.
  • Using a thermostat to control your greenhouse heating will save you time and money by maintaining a constant minimal temperature in the greenhouse and avoid accidental freezing periods.
  • Setting your greenhouse heater’s thermostat to the lowest temperature possible to avoid freezing will help you cut heating costs. You may have to bundle up to work in the greenhouse with this method, but you can always bring a long a space heater if you become too uncomfortable.
  • Placing all your plants on greenhouse shelves will help you keep plants warm and away from the frozen earth.
  • Heat rises, so unless your ventilation system adequately moves air from the roof to the floor, you may experience cold spots and warmer areas. Spot checking temperatures can help you determine if you have a problem before your plants suffer.

Heating your greenhouse during winter months requires more effort than opening a few vents to allow summer heat to escape, but the beauty that winter gardening yields makes that effort worthwhile.

Cooling:

Most people who own a greenhouse and plan on using it in the summer or live in a hot climate will need some type of cooling system.  Depending on what you plan to grow you will find that a greenhouse cooling system will probably be necessary to achieve optimal growing conditions.

It is a good thing to be able to control the temperatures in your greenhouse.  If the temperatures vary too much and do not fall within the guidelines below you may experience slower growth and other problems.

  • When growing tropical plants or plants grown for their fruit like tomatoes or citrus, you will want to establish higher greenhouse temperatures. Keep the greenhouse between 60-85 degrees.
  • If you want to grow green leafy vegetables, you will need a greenhouse ventilation system that keeps the greenhouse at 45-70 degrees.  This temperature range is also appropriate for over wintering plants, maintaining shrubs or growing cool weather vegetables.
  • It is next to impossible to keep every spot in the greenhouse at the same temperature.  You will find that there will be hot or cold spots in every greenhouse.  You can still use these areas if you realize where they are and use them to your growing advantage.

Greenhouse cooling can be achieved by using fans, shade cloth, doors, windows or vents, but to truly cool your greenhouse in the summer, you may need an evaporation cooler.  Check with an online greenhouse site and they will be able to help you choose a greenhouse cooling system.

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