How to Save on Energy Costs When Growing Cannabis Indoors
Growing cannabis in Canada can be expensive – according to one CBC article, a single pound of the product takes about 2,000 kWh of electricity to produce. That’s about the amount of electricity that the average Canadian household uses in two months.
Electricity use in marijuana production and cultivation probably isn’t going down any time soon – a report from Ontario’s IESO found that electricity consumption related to cannabis is projected to increase 1,250% over the next five years in Ontario.
If industrial-scale energy costs have you feeling down, not to worry. We’ve created a full guide that’ll help with managing your grow house, reducing power consumption, calculating the electricity consumption of lights in your facility, as well as looking at the most efficient ways to grow cannabis. Plus, we can even provide tailored energy advice and solutions for Canadian cannabis companies.
Read on to get started with energy-saving solutions for cannabis growers.
How to lower your cannabis production energy costs
Energy-efficiency for Cannabis Businesses
Often, some of the best solutions to cut energy bills are the most obvious. Take some time to think about the energy efficiency measures you have implemented in your grow house as well as whether you have energy-efficient appliances installed wherever possible.
Some questions you might want to think about – is there sufficient insulation throughout your facility? Are there older appliances present that may not be running at their best anymore? Are there financial incentives in your province that you can use towards replacing or upgrading appliances?
If you’re still a little lost, having an energy audit done can be a great starting point for finding out where improvements can be made in terms of energy efficiency.
Time of Use Rates
If you’re located in Ontario, your energy costs can vary greatly depending on time of use rates. Regardless of if you’re a small business or a large business, planning your energy use out around time of use rates can save you a significant amount of money.
Energy rates in Ontario vary according to demand – in general, energy costs in the morning and in the afternoon are more expensive. That’s because most stores, businesses and industries are open and operating during this time frame.
Conversely, energy rates are lower during the night and during weekends since the demand for energy is less.
To learn more about time of use rates, you can visit our post about it here.
Compare energy rates for your cannabis facility
Did you know that both electricity and natural gas utilities are deregulated in Alberta and in Ontario? That means you can choose who provides your electricity and natural gas services to your company.
Regardless though, both small and large industrial businesses can benefit from comparing energy rates. Luckily, it’s not as tedious as it sounds – EnergyRates.ca can help you find and compare the best energy rates in Alberta, Ontario, BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.
Getting started is easy – all you need to do is fill in your postal code in the form above and hit compare energy rates.
How Energy Intensive is the Cannabis Market?
As we’ve touched on earlier in this post, it’s no secret that cannabis grow operations use quite a bit of energy. But how much energy do Canadian producers and other large commercial facilities use, exactly?
In 2018, cannabis production in Ontario used 0.09 TWh of electricity – by 2024, that amount is expected to increase to 1.258 TWh, according to an article from The Star.
In 2015, the NCSL found that a 5,000-square-foot indoor facility in Boulder County, Colorado, used on average 41,808 kilowatt-hours per month. To give you a point of comparison, an average household in that area uses about 630 kWh monthly.
According to 2018 Cannabis Energy Report, the USA consumes around 1.1 TWh of electricity a year in legal cannabis production. If we include all forms of cannabis cultivation, that amount increases to 4.1 TWh, according to an article from Green Tech Media.
If you want to think of things on a smaller scale, this comparison may help – the amount of energy it takes to produce a single cannabis cigarette uses the same amount of energy it takes to run a 100-watt bulb for 25 hours or the amount of energy it takes to drive a hybrid car for 40 kilometres.
In comparison to warmer parts of the United States, it’s not surprising that the cannabis market in Canada is particularly energy-intensive – it’s cold and dark for most of the year, meaning Canadian producers have to supplement natural lighting with artificial lighting, as well as use a significant amount of energy to maintain optimal temperatures and humidity levels.
How to Calculate LED Grow Light Costs?
Did you know that indoor growers use an average of 262 kilowatts per hour per square foot to power their facilities? A significant proportion of that energy goes to lighting – let’s look at how you can calculate how much your LED grow lights are costing you each day or each year.
Here’s the information you’ll need to calculate your grow light costs:
- The cost of electricity per kilowatt hour –
You can find this by checking your energy bill. In our example, we’ll pretend that our facility is located in Ontario and uses electricity during the mid-peak demand (around 15 cents per kilowatt-hour as of late 2020.)
- Identifying the wattage of your LED grow lights –
You can find the wattage on the back of your device, or on the original packaging if you still happen to have it. If all else fails, you can search up your LED model online and find the wattage information that way. For our example, we’ll be using an 800 watt grow light. We’ll convert this number into kWh by dividing it by 1000 (0.8 kilowatts) so it cancels out with the cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour in the formula.
- The number of hours your grow light will be running –
This can vary depending on the strain of cannabis you’re growing as well as what growth phase your cannabis plants are in. For example, in the vegetation phase, lights are typically kept on for 18 hours with 6 hours off – this is what we’ll be using in our example calculation.
Overall, we’ll be plugging this information into the following formula to calculate monthly grow light costs:
cost of electricity [cents/kWh] x [number of hours per day] x [wattage: watts/1,000] = daily costs
[15 cents/kWh] x [18 hours per day] x [0.8 kW] = $21.6 per day
If you want to know your yearly LED grow light cost, just multiply your result by 365.
Also, if you want to know your total LED grow light costs, just multiply your result by the number of appliances.
Do Grow Lights Use A Lot of Electricity?
This is a question that requires context and will depend on each facility. For example, if you were wondering if the grow lights in your facility were using a significant amount of electricity relative to other sources such as space heating and drying, you’d probably have to break down the cannabis production and energy costs for your whole facility.
Electricity usage also depends on how many plants you’re growing.
If we’re comparing grow lights to regular light use, grow lights absolutely use a lot of electricity by comparison.
It’s also worth noting that the kind of grow lights used in a facility matter as well – LED grow lights can use half as much energy as traditional high-pressure sodium lights, according to one article from the CBC.
Which appliances use the most electricity in a commercial grow room?
Below is a list of what processes take up the most energy in a commercial grow room, starting from highest:
- Ventilation, cooling, and dehumidification take up 51% of a commercial grow room’s total electricity usage.
- Lighting takes up 38% of total electricity usage.
- Space heating takes up 5% of total electricity usage.
- Water pumping takes up 3% of total electricity usage.
- CO2 injections take up 2% of total electricity usage.
- Drying takes up 1% of total electricity usage.
What are the most energy-intensive processes in cannabis operations?
Vegetative and flowering stages are the most energy intensive phases in cannabis operations. During the vegetative stage, you can expect to run your lights between 18-24 hours a day. During the flowering stage, you can expect to run your lights 12 hours a day.
In addition to lighting, temperature and humidity control also factor into the large amount of energy it takes to cultivate cannabis.
How Cannabis Companies Can Reduce Their Carbon Emissions
Just because growing cannabis takes a lot of energy doesn’t mean you can’t improve or neutralize your company’s carbon footprint. Here at EnergyRates.ca, we have renewable energy experts who can help your company offset emissions.