An increasing number of farmers and ranchers are discovering that energy-efficiency is a valuable and cost-effective way to combat escalating prices. You can start cutting energy use today with these low-cost steps for your farm buildings and work areas.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
- Turn off lights in unoccupied areas.
- Install simple timers or clock switches.
- Keep light fixtures free of dust for maximum light output.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR® compact fluorescent lights.
- Consider “daylighting” options, such as windows or skylights, in lieu of electric light.
- Learn more about lighting.
- Caulk and weather-strip around windows, doors and rooflines to cut heat loss and drafts.
- Insulate walls and ceilings in farm shops and other heated buildings.
- Block off unused rooms or areas, and heat only smaller work areas (noting any risk of freezing pipes).
- Change the filters on your heating system regularly, and make sure systems and structures are properly vented.
- Learn more about heating and cooling.
Have all systems serviced and keep a record of services performed.
Clean the aeration plenum, or enclosure, under the floor of grain bins. This will save energy by reducing the static resistance the fan must overcome. Also seal leaks, clean inlet screens and time aeration for maximum cooling.
About 25 percent of energy used for irrigation pumping can be wasted due to poor pump and motor efficiency (Loftis and Miles, 2004). So keep irrigation engines serviced and tuned-up. Make sure electric motors, switches and control panels are clean and free of dirt, insects and bird nests. Ensure connections are tight, and moving parts lubricated.
Use an irrigation scheduling method to time irrigations for more efficient fuel and water use. Start irrigation before soils are completely dry.
Consult a farm energy calculator, a planning tool designed to help you save electrical energy, fuel and fossil-fuel-based fertilizers. Find examples at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site.
Run your irrigation system fewer hours per day.
In cold climates, install an electric block heater and timer on equipment. It is less expensive to warm engines with electricity for a controlled period of time than with liquid fuel.
If your tractor engine is kept heated all winter for use as a standby generator, install an air-sensing thermostat set at 20 degrees, the point at which it will automatically turn on.
Choose ENERGY STAR® office equipment and appliances where possible.
Use “sleep” functions on computers, printers and copiers, and turn these off at night or when not in use.
Reduce “vampire” loads that waste energy. Many plug-in devices draw electricity even when they are turned off. Unplug equipment that is not needed or used infrequently.
Learn more about office electronics.
Train your employees on your new energy-conscious practices. Share the success of these efforts with staff.
How PGE can help
Check out the PGE class schedule to take advantage of a variety of courses to enhance business practices and get expert advice on how to save energy and money.
Contact the PGE Business Services team to arrange for a free PGE energy-efficiency consultation. This process can often be quickly accomplished over the over the phone. We can also provide a third-party technical review of improvements you are considering.
Use PGE’s energy monitoring services to track your energy use and bills for a clear picture of where your dollars are going and where you can save. This includes monthly, daily and customer reporting options that help you pinpoint problems and identify key opportunities for improving energy-efficiency.
For outdoor lighting, use photosensors or timers and switch to high-pressure sodium, pulse-start metal halide or induction (QL) lamps. PGE lighting services offers many options.