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How to Save Energy in Your Greenhouse

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 12 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Energy Greenhouse Heat Efficiency

Gardeners have been gardening under cover for centuries. Having use of a greenhouse is a fantastic way to extend both your growing space, and your growing season. It also means that you can grow plants that would otherwise prove impossible to grow and sustain in our British climate, particularly during the colder autumn, winter and early spring months.

It’s fair to say however, that many greenhouses probably aren’t used to their full potential, because they are either unheated or just not heated enough during the cold months of the year. Even electrical heating solutions are rarely completely cost efficient. So the best bet is to try and save as much energy in your greenhouse as possible to increase efficiency, and get the best use out of your greenhouse.

Where the Heat is Lost

A lean-to greenhouse will lose less heat than a standalone greenhouse, as the brick in the lean-to will be better insulated. Single-glazed glass panes lose the most heat, whilst polycarbonate or acrylic panes are slightly less prone to heat loss. As heat rises, and heat loss is greatest around the roof area of the greenhouse, it’s very important that the roof area in particular is well insulated, to try and reduce the massive heat and energy loss that occurs in this area.

Aside from double-glazing or replacing single glass panes, the simplest solution to saving energy in your greenhouse is to insulate with a bubble polythene wrap. This alone can help to save up to a massive fifty per cent of the winter heating requirement during the winter months.

A Good Fit

A constant draught in your greenhouse can radically affect its efficiency in retaining heat. A lot of heat energy can be wasted via badly fitting greenhouse panes, doors and vents. This is why it’s so important to make sure that any gaps and cracks are sealed and filled, and missing panes of glass quickly replaced and adequately sealed.

Partitioning Your Greenhouse

If you’re keen to have some source of electrical heat in your greenhouse, then energy efficiency will probably be a major priority. One way to use less energy when heating your greenhouse is to firstly consider what you’re heating. Ask yourself whether the plants you’re overwintering in the greenhouse really need to be heated, or whether they’ll be better placed inside your home or could survive in an insulated coldframe.

If you’re planning on heating your greenhouse because you’ve decided to sow seeds late in winter, consider whether you could afford to wait until early spring, when there will be more natural sources of warmth from the sun.

However, if you’re absolutely sure that the plants in your greenhouse will need to be heated in your greenhouse, then aside from extra insulation, there’s another tip you can benefit from. Think about the space required to heat the plants – if they can be grouped into one end or area of your greenhouse, then you can partition that area off with polycarbonate or acrylic sheeting. This partitioned area can then be individually heated, with the sheeting insulating and retaining the heat much more efficiently. Of course, the upshot of this is that your heater will expend much less energy, costly you (and the planet) less.

If you just apply these few simple but effective tips, then you’re one step closer to utilising your greenhouse to its full potential, throughout the year – without footing a sizeable energy bill!

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