With the temperatures dropping and daylight hours reducing, now is a good time to assess things and ensure efficient energy use on-farm over the winter.
Energy waste can be relentless in the background and you might only realise what you have wasted when the energy bill hits your desk. We pay the bills begrudgingly, not sure of how they come to be as high as they are, or indeed if we can do anything to reduce them.
Your energy-saving opportunities will depend on the type of farm you manage but the more adjustments and improvements you can make, the more you can save.
Take a walk around your site at different times of the day and do a physical check of different processes, equipment and buildings. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Simply buy your energy cheaper. If you have been with the same energy supplier for more than a couple of years, chances are you’ll be paying too much, so shop around. Using NFU Energy and its NFU Electricity Buying Groups, you could benefit from lower prices and a lower administrative burden.
Controlling your usage
The best way to reduce energy costs is to make sure you are using just enough at the right times:
- Consider using smart, web-based systems to monitor and control operations remotely.
- Check settings and accuracy of heating and ventilation.
- Check any water heater temperatures to avoid the expense of overheating.
- Switch off lights and other equipment when not required.
Don’t let it escape
If you use energy, stop it from escaping:
- Check insulation levels and make sure to draft-proof to stop energy loss when heating and cooling.
- Ensure efficient lagging of pipework and tanks.
- Fit door curtains or automatic doors to allow good seals or stop doors being left open inadvertently.
- Consider thermal imaging to pinpoint leaks and problem areas.
Consume it efficiently
If you care for equipment that uses or consumes energy and keep it in optimum operating condition, it will reward you by running as efficiently as it can:
- Clean fans and air ducts – dirt can reduce fan efficiency by up to 60%.
- Ensure that air ducts allow the smooth passage of air – battens or obstructions can decrease efficiency by up to 20%.
- Is it time to upgrade? Boilers and refrigeration equipment have significantly improved in efficiency in recent years while lighting has undergone a revolution. Replacing tungsten halogen and old-style fluorescents with LEDs can save up to 80%.
Measure and monitor it
By taking regular meter readings and monitoring how much energy you are using (and when and where you are using it) will help you understand how your business uses energy. Look for any unusual patterns or peaks in consumption.
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