Irrigation Offers Room for Savings

These days, most farms are feeling the effects of economic pressures. If you’re looking to reduce operating costs, look no further than your irrigation system. Direct energy costs typically account for five to seven percent of farm expenditures, and irrigation pumps use up to 30 percent of the electricity used to run a farm. Most of that electricity goes to running the pump motor.

Running water pumps for less

To increase the efficiency of water pumps, start with the basics. Keep up with scheduled equipment maintenance and testing. Engines should be serviced regularly and kept well-tuned. It’s important to keep motors, switches and control panels clear of dirt, insects and bird nests. Connections should be tightened as needed and moving parts lubricated.

Upgrading to a high-efficiency motor is another way to reduce irrigation costs. The new motor will soon pay for itself in the form of lower electric bills. (Keep in mind that some premium-efficiency motors draw a larger start-up current, so it’s important to know that your electrical system can handle the power-up.)

If replacing motors isn’t an option, you may be able to improve the efficiency of your old one somewhat by having it rebuilt. The rebuild should involve installing new bearings, rewinding the core and “dipping and baking” the motor to keep the core well insulated.

When the cost of rebuilding a motor is more than 65 percent of what replacing it would cost, replacing it with a new, high-efficiency model is a better idea.

Finally, implementing drip irrigation is a surefire way to run a more energy-efficient farm. While these systems are costly up front, drip irrigation saves energy dollars and water on the long-term.

Taking advantage of off-peak times

You can also reduce costs by cutting back energy-drawing operations during peak demand times. FPL's greatest energy demands are often in the hottest hours of the day during summer. If your farm can shift its most energy-intensive operations—such as irrigation—to off-peak times, you can save money. Learn how demand charges affect your electric bill. Interested in learning more ways to save on your farm operating costs? Schedule an in-person Business Energy Evaluation with an FPL energy expert and get a customized report with energy-saving solutions tailored to your needs.