Upgrading your greenhouses can be expensive, but there’s a good chance it’s worth the money when you consider your return on investment. Thanks to their energy efficiency, new heating systems are some of the wisest investments you can make. And while heating upgrades can be costly, the older, inefficient heating units often cost growers a fortune in the form of wasted energy.
Efficient Heating Options
One heating option to consider is an energy-efficient hydronic radiant system. Unlike forced-air heating systems, which lose a large amount of heat in the air that never reaches the plants, hydronic radiant floor or bench heat warms plants at the soil level. These systems (see Delta T’s high-efficiency boiler options here) work with the greenhouse boiler, which heats water that is pumped through tubes running throughout the greenhouse.
Hydronic radiant heating systems operate with a closed-loop system, which means very little heat is wasted as the water circulates through the tubes. Because radiant heat creates a moist environment, water usage also is reduced.
In addition to energy savings, hydronic radiant heat also helps plants germinate faster, resulting in quicker turns. Because the soil is heated evenly, plants grow more uniformly, so growers can feel confident charging a premium for their high-quality product. Crops grown with radiant heat also benefit from reduced disease incidences.
Making The Most Of Your Heating Investment
If you decide to invest in a new heating system, it’s important to consider the condition of your greenhouse before the new system is installed. To get the fastest return on your investment, you’ll want to make sure your structure is free of air leaks and that you have measures in place to keep the heat you’re paying for inside the greenhouse. This means inspecting glazings, walls, doors and vents for cracks or leaks.
Here’s a list of some other investments to consider to keep your greenhouse operating efficiently, courtesy of Rutgers University Extension Specialist A.J. Both:
Energy Curtains. Installing energy curtains can save energy, helping to lower your utility bills. As an added benefit, they can double as shade devices.
Perimeter Insulation. Installed vertically around the greenhouse perimeter, insulation will help reduce heat loss through the floor to the ground that surrounds the greenhouse.
Double-Layer Glazing. Double poly or double glass glazing can reduce heat loss by as much as 50 percent over the course of a season compared to a single layer of glazing.
Windbreaks. If your operation is in an area that experiences high winds during the heating season, planting trees around the greenhouse can help maintain inside temperature. Be sure the trees do not obstruct sunlight entering the greenhouse.