Energy Efficiency on the Farm

Employing energy-efficient measures on the farm is a win-win situation — farmers get to save a few bucks (maybe even thousands), while also conserving valuable energy resources.

However, when it comes to making their farms more energy efficient, many farmers don’t know where to begin. According to Ohio’s Country Journal, an energy audit is a great place to start.

Often conducted by agricultural energy consultants or local electricity providers, energy audits typically consist of an hour-long phone interview to review the types of equipment on the farm followed by an on-site visit and detailed audit and assessment of the farm’s energy usage.

“In many cases, farmers are not aware of how much they can be saving,” said Dana Koppes, an engineer with New Energy Systems. “Lighting and ventilation are two of the big areas for energy savings on many farms. Dairy pumps, heating and cooling systems on livestock farms and greenhouse operations can see real savings just by changing a few things.”

Farmers interested in becoming more energy efficient can apply to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) to receive funding for an energy audit and financial and technical assistance to implement energy-conservation measures through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are accepted continually throughout the year for the program, but are evaluated and ranked according to the environmental benefits that could be derived from approved conservation measures.

Don’t have time or money for an energy audit? Here are some tips and steps farmers can implement now to save energy and money around the farm, courtesy of Corn and Soybean Digest:

  • Review your farm’s energy usage: Tax reports and a year’s worth of utility bills will help you identify how much energy you’re using and the associated costs. Typically, grain operations, diesel, electricity and propane top the list of farm-energy expenditures.   
  • Upgrade lighting systems: Swapping out incandescent lights for more energy-efficient fluorescent lamps can result in big savings and many utilities offer rebates or incentives to help cover costs.
  • Maintain tractors and trucks: Replacing air and fuel filters on tractors and pickups can deliver a 3 to 4 percent bump in fuel efficiency. Maintaining proper tire inflation will also make vehicles more efficient.
  • Insulate pipes: Insulating a water heater and pipes can reduce heat loss by 25 to 45 percent and reduce water-heating costs by 4 to 9 percent.

Have you taken measures to reduce your energy usage at home or on the farm? Have any tips or suggestions to share?

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