How do you maintain a pleasant indoor environment without wasting energy and spending too much money? In this article we will outline five strategies for creating an energy-efficient horse facility. Whether you are building new or retrofitting, you can keep Mother Nature at bay without emptying your pocketbook.
1. Insulate the roof. The first step is to be sure that your structure is well-insulated. Start with the roof, as this is the most important surface. Install at least R-30 insulation, which generally equates to 12 inches of fiberglass batt insulation or a few inches of closed-cell, polyurethane spray foam insulation. We prefer foam insulation because it has superior insulation value and isn’t ruined if it gets wet.
Be sure to get advice from local professionals before proceeding with any insulation project.Not all insulation types work in all applications, and there are other important considerations for successful performance.
2. Heat as little as possible. A toasty barn seems comfortable to us humans, but spaces heated to more than 55 degrees F in the winter can be hard on horses if they go from inside to outside frequently. It is more important to seek a balance between heating and ventilation. Winter ventilation is necessary to protect indoor air quality and to reduce humidity.If you can smell dust or ammonia, your horses’ immune systems are already working overtime.
Install a variable speed exhaust fan that can be adjusted to exhaust just enough air to keep the indoor air fresh. Then heat the structure with overhead gas radiant heaters that are designed to maintain temperatures in your ventilated barn to between 40 and 55 degrees.
3. Seal air leaks. Systematically weather strip your doors and windows to prevent air from whistling through them when they are closed. The most difficult door will be a sliding barn door, but even these can be sealed with some persistence and the right hardware.
4. Install high-efficiency lighting. Incandescent fixtures convert only 10% of their energy into light.Here are some better options that will give you a lot of bang for your buck:
- Install strip fluorescent fixtures in aisles, arenas, treatment and work areas. These are up to 75% more efficient than incandescent fixtures.
- Use decorative compact fluorescent fixtures. You don’t have to compromise on your desired aesthetic to save energy.
5. Do your maintenance. It pays to keep everything clean and in good repair. Remove dirt from fans and louvers.This will lengthen the life of the equipment and allow it to run most effectively.
It is often worth spending a few dollars up front to enjoy a comfortable and efficient facility over the long term.
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