How to Save Energy Costs in Your Hangar During Winter
by Crista Worthy
Inside your hangar, your airplane is safe from the effects of rain, snow, frost, ultraviolet light, dust and pollen, ash from wildfires, and rocks and particulates kicked up by aircraft operations. Left unchecked outdoors, the above can cause corrosion, fade and crack your paint, age and crack your glareshield and aircraft interior, prematurely age your tires, contaminate your fuel with water, and more. You’ll always be fending off the elements.
With that said, hangars aren’t meant for people to live in. Most hangars have relatively thin, metal walls without any insulation, plus high ceilings. If it’s really cold outside your hangar, you might have to run the heater nearly all the time to maintain a comfortable interior temperature.
You and your friends might hang out in your hangar during warm summer weather, but chances are you’re not spending too much time in your hangar during winter. To conserve energy, take these steps when you’re not spending much time in your hangar, anyway.
Turn Off or Turn Down Your Fridge and Lights
If nobody’s raiding the refrigerator for sodas, you can unplug it or set its temperature higher. You also don’t need to leave the lights on inside your hangar. Outdoor lights can be turned off as well and set to turn on if any motion is detected.
Do you have huge, energy-hogging lights in the ceiling? If you are working on your airplane, you might find it more efficient to use smaller lights that you can plug in with an extension cord and attach to a tripod. Move the light close to where you’re working, and you’ll both see better and save energy.
No Need to Heat Your Entire Hangar
Extreme temperatures can leave your aircraft hardware and systems vulnerable. HangarBot’s thermostat replaces your existing thermostat so that you can monitor and control the temperature of your hangar remotely, turning it on and off as needed so you’re not using excessive energy. After all, there’s no need to heat your entire hangar all the time.
Of course, even with a heat-controlled hangar you’ll still need to pre-heat your engine before a cold winter flight. Plug in an engine preheating system, but don’t turn it on. Lay a sleeping bag over the cowling if you want, to hold the heat in when you do turn on the heater.
Use the Engine Preheating System Only When Necessary
With HangarBot, you can turn on the engine preheating system remotely. Most engine preheating systems can sufficiently warm an aircraft engine in about three to five hours. You don’t need to leave the engine heater on all the time; many mechanics believe that to do so increases corrosion.
Trickle Charge Your Battery
Many pilots like to keep their airplane battery hooked up to a trickle charger, particularly in winter. BatteryMinder makes devices specifically designed for aircraft that cost about 43 cents per month in electricity.
Your Hangar Doesn’t Have to Be an Energy Hog
Remember, your hangar is there to protect your airplane. Its walls and locked doors, together with a security system like HangarBot, do just that. Pre-heat your engine before flights, use an ultra-efficient battery charger, and let the rest go, and you’ll save a bundle—more money for Avgas!