How can I save energy on my farm?
Answer: There are several ways to save energy on your farm depending on what type of infrastructure and operation you have. The first step to reducing farm energy costs is determining where you use energy in your operation. One way to gauge energy use is to have an accredited agency perform an energy audit on your farm. Several organizations provide farm energy audits, which examine existing energy consumption and determine opportunities for savings through energy efficiency improvements and equipment upgrades. Farm energy calculators are another set of tools to estimate energy consumption and calculate the cost of various energy inputs on your farm.LightingEnergy-efficient lighting options present farmers with new opportunities to reduce electricity costs and help manage farms sustainably. Cost-effective, energy-efficient lighting can be used to improve productivity and safety, and reduce operating costs.See the ATTRA publication Energy-Efficient Lighting for the Farm, at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=341. This publication will introduce you to energy-efficient lighting technologies, and terms used by the lighting industry, and help you select options that meet your farm’s lighting requirements.FuelIn today’s climate of continually escalating fuel prices, farms must find ways to conserve fuel in order to reduce costs. There are many free or low-cost measures that can provide immediate fuel savings. Some energy-saving measures have an associated cost but offer a cost-effective payback. See the ATTRA publication, Conserving Fuel on the Farm, at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/viewhtml.php?id=303. This publication provides useful tips to help you start saving fuel on your farm today. This publication focuses on energy conservation in three areas: fuel storage, vehicle operation and maintenance, and field practices.Efficient BuildingsEfficient buildings can save money and improve comfort while reducing resource consumption. Designers and builders nationwide are creating new buildings that save energy and water, use fewer material resources, and create less waste. Farmers and ranchers can join in the savings by incorporating efficiency in their plans for new buildings or renovations. Whether you are planning housing, barns, equipment sheds, greenhouses, storage spaces, or even specialized facilities for agritourism or product processing, efficiency is an important consideration.See the ATTRA publication Energy Efficient Buildings: An Overview at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=302. This publication discusses several ways to improve the efficiency of agricultural buildings and provides further references for implementing those strategies. Topics covered include suiting a building to its site, using natural systems, using renewable energy, conserving energy, and conserving material resources in construction.IrrigationEspecially in times of high energy costs, efficient irrigation equipment is essential to the viability of farms and ranches. Most irrigation systems are not as efficient as they could be. Properly sized, adjusted, and maintained irrigation systems can use a lot less energy. And increasing pump and motor efficiency will save additional energy.See the ATTRA publication Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=119. This publication describes ways that irrigators can save energy to reduce irrigation costs. It describes recommended irrigation system installations, explains how utilities charge their irrigation customers for electricity, and describes common causes of wasted energy, as well as common energy-saving hardware improvements. It also includes a do-it-yourself method to estimate the efficiency of electrically powered irrigation systems.There are several other ATTRA publications that provide information and tools to save energy on your farm. For a comprehensive list of energy-related ATTRA publications, see https://attra.ncat.org/publication.html#energy.