When it comes to energy consumption, your home electric utility bill likely comes to mind – but your barn may be a bigger energy user than you think! I know I’m guilty of locking up the tack room and forgetting to turn off the lights, or even worse getting home and realizing I left the arena lights on. These may seem like they would have a pony-sized impact, but there are some great, easily implementable energy saving ‘retrofits’ you can make to your barn, to not only lower your environmental footprint, but also your barn’s energy bill!
While the major categories of energy consumption are related to Lighting and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), the biggest consumer in most barns is undoubtedly lighting. Luckily, lighting is also the easiest to target and implement. By retrofitting existing equipment to a more efficient option, your building will be demanding less from your utility’s grid, and therefore your bill will be much cheaper!
In addition to upgrading to more efficient equipment, many barns are looking at how they can self-generate power and go ‘off the grid’. This is most commonly done by implementing Photovoltaic (PV) systems, more casually referred to as solar. As technology advances we are also seeing adoption of wind turbines. Self generation tends to be costly, so we recommend prioritizing the “low-hanging fruit’ and looking to the retrofit opportunities first.
We are seeing consistent adoption of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps in the market place in a variety of applications perfectly fit for the barn. LEDs are the best option for many reasons:
- The life span of an LED lamp is at least 3 to 5 times longer than existing halogen or incandescent lamps (which means fewer burned out bulbs!)
- A typical LED only uses 10 – 25 watts, compared to existing incandescent or halogen lamps that use 50 – 100 watts (you pay per watt on your bill, so consuming less watts means paying a LOT less money!)
Another great energy saver is installing light switches with built in occupancy sensors. These can easily be purchased from a local hardware store for $10-20 each, or even from somewhere like amazon.com. Some models detect motion up to 50 feet away, which can definitely come in handy if you’re walking into the tack room with arms full of saddles and tack! These sensors are also great for bathrooms, closets, back office areas, and feed rooms.
Retrofit projects typically save enough energy and money off your bill so that they ‘pay for themselves’ within a matter of months – but the best part is that many states and/or local utilities offer rebates and incentives to help pay for some of the cost! A great resource to research potential rebates in your area is energy.gov/savings.