In northern climates, winter growing adds expensive heating costs to the most diligent greenhouse operation. A well designed and properly installed energy curtain can reduce winter heating bills by up to 50 per cent and in some cases more.
In turn, energy curtains when used properly in hot summer weather can cut back on electricity needs from fan venting, and help maintain higher nighttime temperatures when the sun goes down.
But there are five other considerations worth adding to your analysis when considering the value of an energy curtain in your greenhouse.
1. Greenhouse energy curtains help control humidity: When used properly in conjunction with roof vents, an energy curtain can help balance humidity in the greenhouse by allowing fresh cool air in, while still providing a physical barrier to prevent the cold air from dropping to the crop.
Learning how to control the curtains as part of your total environmental control is essential. If the curtain needs to be closed and humidity levels are too high, then opening the curtains a crack and opening your windows will help lower humidity.
2. Energy curtains can be used for summer shading: The flexibility with energy curtains allows growers to shade when the plants need it. By using your greenhouse curtain system to adjust light levels as well as temperature you have one more tool for providing the ideal growing environment for your specific crop. When working with your greenhouse design team to layout the greenhouse curtain system make sure you don’t miss this aspect of environment control, and set your zones according to the differences your crops may need.
3. Energy curtains produce healthier plants by reducing daytime temperature fluctuations: Getting rid of the peaks and valleys in a winter day’s temperature range will most certainly improve the bottom line as far as reducing heating costs.
And that is only the beginning.
Daytime temperature fluctuations may be causing your boilers to perform lower than expected, which reduces boiler efficiency and affects maintenance costs and lifetime use of a boiler. These rapid temperature changes also add stress to your plants. So by properly timing the opening and closing of an energy curtain with environmental controls that measure outside and indoor temperatures against desired growing temperatures, you can even out the peaks and valleys and provide a smoother temperature transition for healthy plants.
4. Energy curtains may qualify for a government rebate: In many parts of the United States, Canada and Europe, energy savings is high on government agendas. Get involved with your local chamber of commerce, and your regional, state and provincial government, and learn what rebates and tax saving incentives are available for energy efficient upgrades. If there is money available to help improve your business, then knowing what your options are will help you make smart decisions.
5. Energy prices won’t likely go down, so energy savings are bound to go up: When considering the ROI for an energy curtain or any other capital investment, including an assessment of the future makes good sense. Take a look at your energy bills for the last five years and consider trends. How has your price changed? What has your average usage been? If you had a mild winter and dramatically reduced your heating expenses, also consider the harsher winters because the future will have both.
Thermal energy curtains are only one consideration that modern commercial growers have available to assist in providing the ideal growing environment for the crop. Additional curtain considerations like shade, or blackout (light deprivation), or double and triple hung curtain options, and truss-to-truss versus gutter-to-gutter operations can also be discussed with a GGS greenhouse specialist.
If you have any remaining questions about greenhouse curtains contact us now for a free individual consultation – ggsstructures.com
Leigh Coulter is the president of GGS Structures Inc. and Niagrow Systems Ltd. GGS has been building greenhouses for growers around the world since 1979.