According to Statistics Canada, Canada is home to more than 205,000 farms. On a provincial level, Ontario has the largest number of farms, with nearly 52,000 as of 2011, with Alberta running a close second with more than 43,200 farms.
While research on the economics of farming in Canada is relatively sparse, the data we do have indicates that farming does not just consume immense amounts of time: It consumes enormous amounts of electricity and natural gas as well.
Electricity and Natural Gas Consumption by Farms in Ontario and Alberta
A report prepared for Natural Resources Canada in 2000 indicated that Alberta farms consumed a total of 1813 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year. For perspective, 1 GWh equals 1,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), which could power 88 Canadian homes for a year. In addition, Alberta farms consumed 6,898 terajoules (TJ) of natural gas that year. When breaking down the data by farm type, cattle farms were the largest consumers of both electricity and natural gas.
Another study by Energy Efficiency Alberta in 2018 pointed out that these numbers are rising over time. According to the report, the total electricity consumption forecast for farms in Alberta in 2019 was 2,322 GWh.
Ontario farms dwarfed even those figures, consuming 2,764 GWh of electricity and 10,061 TJ of natural gas. Breaking down the data by farm type showed that Ontario dairy farms were the largest consumer of electricity, while greenhouses and nurseries were the largest consumers of natural gas (with more than triple the consumption of the next closest category, grain and oilseed farms).
With these levels of consumption, it should be clear that in order for farmers to ensure the profitability of their agricultural operations, finding ways to cut energy costs is imperative.
How Farms Can Reduce Their Energy Consumption
There are a number of ways in which farming operations can reduce their energy consumption and make a significant reduction in their overall electricity and natural gas bills.
- Replace old lighting systems with new, energy efficient fluorescent or LED lights.
- Many farms have old water heaters, refrigeration units, vacuum pumps, and irrigation pumps which use exorbitant amounts of energy. Replacing these with new units can generate savings within a short amount of time.
- Check to see if irrigation pumps are properly sized.
- Install door closers and new weather stripping in barns, greenhouses, and other buildings.
- Ensure that all buildings are sufficiently insulated throughout the walls and floors.
- Use thermal blankets for cattle and other livestock, rather than relying strictly on powered heating systems.
- Install more efficient, lower flow sprinkler and drip systems for crops to reduce pump operation time.
By carefully analyzing your farms operation processes, you can likely identify other opportunities for reducing your farm’s overall energy costs.
Cut Your Farming Energy Bill Even More
To easily compare the electricity and natural gas plans available from competitive energy companies in your area, use our convenient energy rate comparison form. Simply enter your postal code, indicate whether you’re interested in electricity or natural gas options, and select the “small business,” “small commercial,” or “large commercial” option with the monthly energy costs closest to your farm’s monthly energy bill.
In addition, some energy companies offer plans specially designed for farming and agricultural operations. For more information on these options, contact Energyrates.ca for a free consultation.