5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Greenhouse Warm in the Winter

Try these simple tips for keeping your greenhouse warm in the winter – no electricity required!

If you live in a cold climate, a greenhouse can be a great way to keep growing some of your own food throughout the winter. This doesn’t mean you need a big, fancy, expensive setup. In fact, you may be surprised by how much you can grow in the winter even just in high (or low) tunnels! However, a greenhouse will provide more flexibility with what crops you can grow, and also offers more space with less maintenance.

That said, even if you have cold, snowy winters, you most likely won’t need to spend money running electricity to your greenhouse for heat unless you’re growing commercially on a large scale. Instead, there are many simple and economical ways to heat your greenhouse in the winter using natural or passive heat sources – which are great for small homesteads or even off-grid living.

You can use one of the methods below, or combine several for an additional boost. You’ll also want to make sure you grow cold-hardy plants if you live in a cooler climate – summer crops aren’t meant to be grown in the winter, and even in a greenhouse, they won’t do well. Lastly, remember to take good notes and keep a record of your soil and air temperatures inside your greenhouse to find out what works best for you.

Try these super simple tips to keep your greenhouse warm through the winter months – no electricity required:

1. Heating Your Greenhouse with Sunshine

A greenhouse is designed to allow sunlight in and trap the heat that is produced. During the day when the sun is out, you can rely on the heat produced by the sun to help heat your greenhouse.

The problem is those daylight hours are shorter in the winter. Plus, you have to think about nighttime. Not only is it colder at night, but the sunlight isn’t available to help you heat the greenhouse.  During the night, an unheated greenhouse will drastically lower in temperature to meet the temperatures of the outdoors. Unless you live in a mild climate, you will likely need to combine another method of heating your greenhouse with this one.

2. Using a Compost Pile to Heat Your Greenhouse

Making and Using Compost can help heat your greenhouse and is a great way to prevent organic materials from going to waste. Compost is made through the process of decomposing organic material. During this decomposition process, your compost pile generates heat. If you place a compost pile in your greenhouse, then the heat produced in that compost can help raise the air temperature.

Note: The amount of heat produced depends on the size of your compost pile, the amount of moisture it contains, and the surrounding air temperature.

3. Using Thermal Mass Objects to Heat Your Greenhouse

Thermal mass objects have the ability to absorb, store, and radiant heat. They are a great cost-effective way to heat a greenhouse.

The most common thermal mass object used in greenhouse heating is water. Drums can be painted black, placed in direct sunlight areas, and filled with water. This water thermal mass method is also known as a heat sink.


Another way to store heat for your greenhouse is by using bricked pathways or just simply adding bricks or stones to your greenhouse. Bricks and stones hold heat and can help naturally and gently heat up your greenhouse during the night. This isn’t going to dramatically warm up your greenhouse, but every little bit you can do can help…

4. Use Small Animals to Heat Your Greenhouse in Winter

Small animals like chickens and rabbits have been used for years to help keep greenhouses warmer during the winter. This method of greenhouse heating is also known as bio-heating. Chickens and rabbits create body heat and manure that can be composted to warm the air in the greenhouse. An added bonus is that these animals also produce carbon dioxide which is essential in the growth of plants.

Note: If you are using small animals to help heat your greenhouse, you will need to provide coops or runs to prevent damage to your plants.

5. Cover Your Plants to Help Keep in the Heat

Like mulching, a cover can help keep the heat from escaping into the air. A cover sheet is usually used because it allows sunlight in and keeps the trapped underneath. Row covers can be used to cover larger areas, but another smaller DIY option is milk jugs or clear plastic totes.

Read more tips at ThePrairieHomestead.com


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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