On top of raw materials and equipment, energy cost is another major expense that you have to deal with as a farm owner. Obviously, you’ll need to save energy on the farm to build a lucrative, high-profit business. Not only that, paying close attention to your farm’s energy efficiency will do the environment a huge favor.
With that said, here are the best ways to make your farm more energy-efficient.
Minimize lighting costs
Electricity accounts for at least 17% of the agricultural sector’s energy consumption. For small farms, this figure tends to get even higher.
With that said, it’s easy to see how minimizing lighting costs is easily one of the most effective ways to save energy on the farm. And one of the best ways to bring down your electricity bill is to switch to more efficient lighting systems. To achieve this, check out the following tips:
- Switch to thinner T5 or T8 fluorescent bulbs if you’re currently using larger T12 bulbs. This will help you save up to 25% on your energy consumption.
- Junk incandescent bulbs or mercury vapor lights. Replace them with LED bulbs, which are about 60% to 70% more efficient.
- Make sure to clean light bulbs regularly to maximize their light output. This will make additional lighting unnecessary.
- Consider installing motion-activated bulbs or timers to automatically turn off lights that aren’t in use.
- Dim interior lights if the current amount of daylight permits it.
Aim for more efficient fuel use
You use a lot of fuel when hauling products to and from the farm. Using a vehicle that fits well with your needs is a great way to use fuel more efficiently. Consider gas mileage and vehicle size when choosing which model to purchase.
Performing regular maintenance, planning out deliveries and pickups in advance, and being mindful of your tires are great ways to save fuel, too. These things also apply to other fuel-expending equipment. Never neglect the recommended maintenance schedule on each equipment. Lastly, see to it that they match the size and specific requirements of your farm.
Reduce your greenhouse costs
While greenhouses exist to take advantage of free energy from the sun, they’re sometimes fitted with an additional heat source that consumes energy. Improve your greenhouse’s energy efficiency by improving its insulation. Conducting regular maintenance and switching to cost-effective heating systems should help, too.
To save energy on the farm, patch holes and tears on your greenhouse ASAP. Also, insulating the metal posts that hold up your greenhouse will minimize heat loss by conduction. You can also temporarily seal ventilation fans that are not being used to keep the heat in more effectively. Sealing the gap between your greenhouse’s walls and the ground is also a smart move.
Lastly, ensure that all ventilation fans are running at their optimal state. Cleaning them regularly is crucial, as well as periodically checking on their engines to make sure that everything is operating smoothly. Even better, upgrade to high-efficiency heating and ventilation systems if you can afford to do so.
Consider investing in renewable energy
Once you’ve achieved a good level of energy efficiency on your farm, you might want to consider investing in a renewable energy source. Popular options include solar and wind. However, you can also go off the beaten path and look into other sources, like hydropower.
Other ways to save energy on the farm
The points above cover all the main areas where you can save energy on the farm — but why stop there? Take it a notch higher by using these tips:
- Install a water heater timer to avoid unnecessary heating.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Consider installing a heat reclaimer, or improve an already-existing one.
- Look into biowaste as heating fuel.
- Insulate the walls on your farmhouse and other buildings.
- Avoid leaving your tractor idle for long periods.
- Don’t use big tractors to pull small loads.
- Regularly replace fuel and air filters on your tractors and pickups.
- Reconsider your tillage decisions.
Now, you don’t have to follow every single tip listed here right away. Building a more energy-efficient farm can be a lengthy process, and taking it one step at a time won’t hurt.
But in the end, one thing is certain. Investing time and resources into energy-saving strategies will reap eventual rewards — namely, a greener farm, lower operating costs, and most of all, higher profits.