Top Ways to Save Money on your Farm Power Bills
It’s expensive to run a farm. An easy and effective way to cut back on your farm expenses is to reduce your energy costs. Read on to discover the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your farm power bills.
How much do farmers spend on energy?
How much a farmer spends on energy depends on many factors, such as the type and size of the farm, as well as the energy tariff the property is on.
The table below shows how much the average farmer in Ireland spends on electricity per each unit of production.
Note that this data pertains to larger farms, which bring in at least €8,000 per year in revenue. Small farms tend to have relatively higher costs because the overhead costs are not as outstretched.
|Type of Production||Average cost per unit|
|Dairy||0.49c per litre of milk|
|Pigs||€5.40 per pig per year|
|Poultry||0.1c per bird per year|
|Grain drying||€12.3 per tonne|
Source: Smart Farming
According to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the average dairy farm has 90 cows and produces 450,000 total litres of milk per year. With this data, we can assume that the average dairy farmer spends over €2,200 per year on electricity alone.
While these are the average rates, the range in rates actually varies quite a bit. Researchers from leading agricultural research organisation Teagasc found that some dairy farmers pay as little as 0.23c per litre, while others pay as much as 0.76c per litre — that’s a difference of €2,385 per year!
|Rate type||Cost per litre of milk||Estimated cost per year (450,000 L)|
|Lowest rate||0.23c per litre||€1,035|
|Average rate||0.49c per litre||€2,205|
|Highest rate||0.76c per litre||€3,420|
The significant variation in rates indicates that many farmers aren’t updating their tariff every year, and therefore, aren’t taking the best measures to be energy efficient.
The only way to pay the cheapest rates is to switch your energy supplier every year. If you haven’t switched in the past year, it’s highly likely that new customers are getting better rates than you are.
How to reduce your farm power bills
Before taking measures to reduce your farm power bills, it’s best to have an idea of your farm’s energy consumption. Where is electricity being used? When is it being used? How much are you spending?
We recommend taking a look at the following systems where relevant to your farm:
- Heating systems
- Milking & milk cooling
Once you’ve gathered this information, you can then start making changes in order to reduce your costs and run a more fuel-efficient farm. Let’s have a look at some of the best ways to start saving.
Switch energy suppliers
Switching your energy supplier is the easiest and quickest way for you to reduce your farm power costs. It only takes five minutes to switch, and then you can look forward to saving hundreds (if not thousands) of euros over the course of the year.
To switch to a cheaper energy supplier, you’ll need to have the following details on hand:
- Your MRPN and/or GPRN. These can be found on your electricity and gas bill.
- A current meter reading.
- Your bank details.
When choosing a new energy supplier for your farm, it’s best to get a personalised comparison. For a free assessment, give us a call here at Selectra on 1800 816 036. We can evaluate your farm on an individual basis and help you find the best energy offer available.
Consume more energy during night-rate hours
To save more money on farm power bills, it’s best to take advantage of the cheaper prices that are available during off-peak hours with day-night tariffs.
The cheaper night rates come at the expense of slightly more expensive day rates. In order to benefit from the savings, roughly a quarter of your consumption should take place during the night hours.
No matter your supplier or location, night-rate hours are the same across Ireland. You can find the hours during which electricity is cheaper in the table below.
|Winter night-rate hours||11 p.m. to 8 a.m.|
|Summer night-rate hours||Midnight to 9 a.m.|
Farmers can take advantage of these cheaper rates by running electric water heater systems, milk cooling appliances and other machines during these hours. Using timers can be especially useful to ensure the electricity consumption occurs during the off-peak hours.
You must have a day-night meter in order to register for a day-night tariff. If you would like to have a day-night meter installed, your supplier will do it for free. However, you will have to pay a fee of around €200 if you later decide to switch back to a standard, 24-hour meter.
Have you got multiple meters? You can register each of these meters with the best applicable tariff — they don't have to be on the same one! You may benefit from having a day-night tariff for your farm and a 24-hour tariff for your home. Give us a call on 1800 816 036, and we'll help you find the best plans to suit your energy needs.
IFA discounts and schemes
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) provides a number of farm schemes and direct payments for farmers. These range from rural development and renewable energy schemes, to payments for new and young farmers.
For 2020, IFA has allocated €82.5 million to be paid out to farmers across Ireland. It’s best to apply and make your payment claim as soon as possible.
IFA Bord Gáis Energy discount
IFA members can get a discounted electricity offer with Bord Gáis Energy. Farmers can get 10% off Bord Gáis’ standard electricity unit rate for 18 months. The contract guarantees a fixed price for this length of time. Payments must be made via direct debit.
Even though you can get a discount for Bord Gáis Energy through IFA, it doesn’t necessarily mean it's the cheapest offer available. Almost all energy suppliers offer special discounts to new customers. Some discounts even reach upwards of 40%.
For a free price comparison, give us a call on 1800 816 036. Our energy experts will help you find the best rates for your farm so that you can start saving on your energy bills today.
Other ways to save money
Once you’ve switched your energy tariff, there are quite a few other measures you can take to further reduce your overall spend on energy. Let’s have a look at some additional areas in which farmers can be more energy efficient.
Consider switching to LED light bulbs, as these are the most efficient. A 150-watt LED light bulb will last you 100 times longer than a 500-watt halogen flood light. At ten hours a day, it will also save you around €130 a year on your electricity bill.
We also recommend you take advantage of natural daylight as much as possible, and use either timers or motion sensors where applicable to avoid using lighting at unnecessary times.
Updating the insulation in your farm buildings will reduce your overall energy costs. Insulation that has been damaged by pests can have a significant impact on your energy bills.
A way to check the effectiveness of the insulation is to check how much temperatures fluctuate between the day and the night. If they vary considerably, it’s probably worth installing new insulation.
In addition to the farm building, you should also consider upgrading the insulation on your electric hot water tank. This will allow you to take full advantage of cheaper night-rate prices for electricity. Otherwise, the tank is likely to require additional heating during the more expensive on-peak hours.
Heating and hot water
When it comes to heating and hot water, there are various steps you can take to be more energy efficient.
- Service your boiler each year
- See that all tanks and pipers are well insulated
- Minimise the distance hot water has to travel
- Use night-rate electricity & check that timers are set for the appropriate times
- Enclose heated areas
- Avoid unnecessary high temperatures
Regular maintenance and servicing
Over time, humidity and dust can take a toll on appliances. It’s best to inspect fans, thermometers, timers and other appliances in order to ensure they are clean and running properly.
SEAI grants for farmers
Keep an eye out for energy saving grants for farmers with SEAI. In 2019, the authority paid out over €470,000 to Irish dairy farmers. Farmers were able to get up to 40% off specific energy saving technologies that were related to dairy farming.
Applications were open just for a month, so it’s best to apply as soon as possible in the case that a grant is available.