To Improve Energy Efficiency In Greenhouses

On February 09, 2019

To Improve Energy Efficiency In Greenhouses

There are a number of steps that can be taken to conserve energy in greenhouses. Extension Specialist Daniel Ciolkosz shares these thoughts. Greenhouse coverings are clear in order to allow sunlight into the house.  Unfortunately, clear panels are also poor insulators.  You can minimize your nighttime heat loss in the winter by using a movable thermal screen, that can be drawn across the roof and walls of the greenhouse.  Often these thermal screens can serve double duty – providing shade from excessive sunlight in midsummer and providing thermal insulation during winter nights.  The reduction in heating costs will vary depending on your situation but can be as high as 30 or 40%.  

Sealing the fans is another step that can yield a good return in energy savings. When ventilation fans are turned off, the fan’s louver will automatically close the fan opening.  At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.  Unfortunately, bent or malfunctioning louvers are all too common in greenhouses, as well as drilled holes or gaps around the fan housing.  This leads to air leakage during the winter, which translates into higher heating bills.  Malfunctioning louvers need to be repaired, and any holes or cracks should be covered over.  

One should also insulate the perimeter of the greenhouse. This is one of the spots where heat is lost in the winter through the ground and through the bottom part of the sidewall.  You can reduce energy losses by installing an insulated board that extends from the height of the greenhouse’s benches down into the soil along the greenhouse’s perimeter.  Typical savings will vary but are on the order of 5% for Pennsylvania conditions.  

The north wall of a greenhouse lets in surprisingly little light – especially in the winter when the sun is low in the southern sky.  You may find that it’s cost effective to cover the north wall of the greenhouse with insulating board to reduce heat losses.  If the insulation is painted white, it can even enhance light levels inside the greenhouse by “reflecting back” winter sunlight that would have otherwise passed out through the north wall.  

Greenhouse growers usually care a lot more about their plants than about their fans – that’s one of the things that makes them good growers.  However, it pays to look over the fans from time to time to see if they are in good operating order or if they need a cleaning.  Accumulated dust on a fan’s blades and safety screen can increase ventilation energy use by as much as 20%!  All that is needed to correct this problem is a rag and some elbow grease.   Be sure to de-activate the electrical circuit for the fan before starting, just to be safe.  

To Determine How Many Credits You Need For Your Pesticide Applicators License

This time of year, Extension offices are flooded with calls from farmers asking questions about the number of credits they need to maintain their applicator’s license, and where they can find additional meetings. For private applicators, licenses expire on March 31 (on a 3-year cycle), so winter meeting season is an ideal time to obtain the necessary recertification credits. So, how do you know if you’ve met the requirements, and are able to renew your license? Extension Agronomist Dwane Miller explains the answer can be found on your computer-just a few short clicks away!

The PaPlants website ( is a great place to obtain all kinds of information about your pesticide license. Once on their main page, is best to register to login into the site. This feature will give you the ability to view all the meetings where you received credits, renew your license by paying with a credit card, and a variety of other tasks.

The first step would be to register on the PaPlants site. In order to do that, you will need your PaPlants ID and PIN numbers. Your PaPlants ID and PIN are printed on your renewal form. If you do not have your renewal form, you can contact the department at 717-787-4843. To login or register, click on Logon/Register at the bottom left of the screen.

If you still need recertification credits, now is the time to find meetings. To find a location near you and to register, visit the Agronomic Pesticide Update website or call toll free 1-877-345-0691.

To Learn About Crop Pest Management

Penn State Extension and the SOLANCO Young Farmer program will provide two independent pesticide education opportunities on February 21st, 2019. The events will be held at the Hoffman Building, Quarryville fairgrounds. Both meetings will have “2 + 2” pesticide points with a morning session (9:30 AM -12:00 PM) and an evening session (7:00 – 9:00 PM) offered. 

The morning pesticide training will feature Leon Ressler, Heidi Reed, and Jeff Graybill, Penn State Agronomy Educators, and Kay Moyer, RN, Penn State Farm Safety Coordinator, Presentations will include: “Crop Disease Issues of 2018”, The Importance of Pesticide Formulations”, “Dicamba Resistant Soybean Update”, and “Pesticide Safety for Farm Families.”  

The evening program will feature Leon Ressler, Jeff Graybill and Dennis Eby, Lancaster Co. Conservation District. Topics for the evening session will include: “Insect and Slug Management in No-till Corn and Soybeans”, “Water Quality Effects on Pesticide Activity”, and “Pesticide Safety Review.”

A charge of $5.00 will be collected at the door to cover expenses and handouts- reservations are not required.  Morning and evening session will have separate meeting numbers.

For more information contact Jeff Graybill at Lancaster Extension: 717-394-6851.

Quote Of The Week: “No Winter Lasts Forever, no spring skips its turn.” Hal Borland