Depending on the climate you live in, the electricity required for cultivating cannabis will vary. Even in the most temperate of climates, the process still requires a lot of electricity. This can add to your production process.
It is, in fact, a costly addition to your process costs. You need to factor this into your growth budget so that you pass it on to your buyers.
The two biggest electricity consumption culprits are the lights and the HVAC system together with other climate control measures.
Excessive usage of electricity leaves a carbon footprint especially when it comes from non-renewable resources.
The best thing you can do as a grower is to minimize your electricity consumption. Here are some tips to help you save electricity and reduce your bill:
Before you can implement energy-saving measures, you need to know how much electricity you are using. It’s a good idea to monitor your electricity usage each day. Smart meters allow you to make daily readings.
Separate your lights from your HVAC system when working out your usage. Take the wattage of your bulbs and multiply it by the number of bulbs.
Then multiply it by the number of hours a day the lights are on. Deduct that from your daily total and the balance will be a product of your HVAC system.
2. Calculate the PPFD and DLI
The PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) and DLI (daily light integral) determine the amount of lighting your grow operation needs.
The PPFD calculation allows you to get a handle on how many photons fall on your plants per second in the visible light spectrum. The DLI calculation shows how many hours of light your plants are exposed to daily.
Your DLI calculation should work out at 35 moles per meter squared each day. It helps you work out how many hours of light your plants need each day.
You might find you’re using your lights too much. Even one hour less per day can save you a lot of money.
3. Work out the VPD
The VPD (vapor pressure deficit) shows how much evaporation can take place. Evaporation turns water into gas. The factors you need to calculate the VPD are the humidity reading and the room temperature.
These readings will help you determine how often your HVAC system runs and how long it should be running.
Reducing how many hours your HVAC system operates will significantly reduce your electricity consumption.
Bearing the seasons in mind, you might find that your HVAC system usage fluctuates.
4. Install an integrated climate control system
A climate control system can run all the equipment you use in your grow operation. It’s a smart system that can decide when the lights should be on and when the HVAC system should run. This is what an integrated system can do.
Separate systems monitoring separate factors cannot communicate with each other. This means they do work in competition with each other and increase your electricity consumption.
5. Don’t have on/off equipment
Simple equipment has an on/off switch. It cannot be set to work at different levels. Variable use equipment comes with different settings. Lights that can dim instead of merely switching on or off are a good example.
When the lights are dimmed, less electricity is used. Circulation and ventilation fans that work at differing speeds save electricity. This equipment needs to be coupled with an integrated climate control system to work efficiently.
6. Control how much equipment is running at a given time
Think of a time your temperature got too high. What happened? The ventilation and circulation fans were on together with all the HVAC units. This would draw a lot of electricity all at once. Avoiding this is possible.
You can program your integrated climate control system to do so much more than switch on the lights and air conditioning. When it detects an increase in temperature, it can switch the fans on. If that doesn’t work, the system can incrementally turn the HVAC units on to cool the room down.
7. Maximize the efficiency of your fans
Fans use far less electricity than HVAC units. Having good fans can save you a lot of money. Check the ventilation efficiency factor of an exhaust fan you buy. It should be above 15. A factor above 15 ensures that the motor runs at an efficient rate that saves you electricity.
8. Insulate the grow area well
Insulate the walls, doors, and windows of your grow area. This can prevent fluctuations in the balance of factors you need to maximize your harvest. This, in turn, makes sure that your HVAC system is required less.
Besides, you should insulate the pipes that run your HVAC system. Insulate the entire pipes throughout the area. It helps to keep the pipes at the correct temperature.
9. Get to the root of the problem
The most important part of the cannabis plant that ensures a successful harvest is the roots. Happy roots result in a happy plant. Keeping the temperature of the cannabis roots constant makes the plant more resistant to temperature changes.
A heating system in the beds where the roots are allows you room temperature fluctuations without affecting the plant.
Instead of heating the entire room, heat the roots. It will use less electricity and keep the plants growing. Your HVAC system will run less often, saving you electricity.
10. Choose your plant wisely
Growing an exotic plant that is not suited to the climate you’re in will use more electricity. In their native environment, they would grow and thrive without too much intervention that requires electricity.
In your environment, they need extra care which requires you to run your lights and HVAC systems more often.
Do some research before you choose the seed you’ll be growing. Make sure it is genetically compatible with the climate you live in. You might not get a 100% genetic match, but 80% would be better than 20%.
When you can save electricity in your grow operation, it allows you to reduce your costs, making your operation more competitive. Alternatively, you can keep your prices a bit higher and use the savings to bolster your bottom line.