Local greenhouse fights high cost of heating

    If Watson Greenhouse is going to survive this winter, owner Carol Watson has to do something about the heating bill - nearly $6,000 a month last winter. We talked about it in August, and local systems engineer Elliott Reitz caught our story. Elliott called Carol, he analyzed her problem, and they engineered a solution together.

    "As I looked at the story," Elliott says, "I saw the greenhouse and the heaters way up in the air and I though, gosh that looks like an easy problem to solve." The answer, in effect, was to use the technology that's already here in a better way... bringing the heater to the floor," Elliott says, "so they don't blow over the top of the plants but underneath the plants."

    With the heaters close to the floor now, they can easily hook up tubes that run the length of the greenhouse floor, with vents to disperse that heat along the way. Reitz says, "We also came up with a way to use hot water heaters to provide radiant heat and duct the inlet area of the furnace so it doesn't draw a draft along the seams of the whole length of the building and that'll eliminate a lot of the moisture issues as well."

    This is a demonstration of systems engineering that aims to save this business from freezing. They've identified a list of solutions, they've evaluated and prioritized, now they're doing the work. The Watson Greenhouse heating bills this winter will show us how successful they've been.

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