If you are growing indoors, you’ve probably noticed it can raise your electrical bill by quite a bit. In states like California where I live, power can be really expensive and even a small grow can increase your bill by quite a lot. Here is a few quick tips you can use to lower your bill, without scaling back your grow.
1.) Run your lights at night, instead of during the day
Lights create most of the heat in a grow room, so schedule your lights to come on at night when outside temps are cooler. This can reduce the temperatures in your grow and allow you to run your air conditioner or cooling equipment a lot less. This also means your lights will be off during the hottest part of the day, so during those hot summer afternoons your AC won’t have to work as hard. This technique works great in the winter too, since the extra heat from your lights will help keep the grow warm at night, reducing heating costs.
The only real downside of running your lights at night is that it means you have to work in your room at night too. This might not work well for your schedule. This sometimes means working in the grow late at night or very early in the morning, which can disrupt your sleep cycle or cause issues with family or roommates. Keep this in mind when choosing when to run your lights.
2.) Take advantage of “Time of Use” rate plan options from your power company
Power companies have a tough job trying to make sure there is always enough power when people need it. During hot afternoons and busy times of the day, the power company has to ramp up power production to meet all the demand. This means turning on more power plants and increasing production which costs the power company a lot of money. At night when most people are asleep the power company has a lot of extra power, they do their best to reduce production, but a lot of that extra power still gets wasted. So for the power company, making more power during the peak times is really expensive, but power at night is pretty cheap since they have a lot of extra capacity and not a lot of demand.
You can take advantage of this by signing up for a “Time of Use” rate plan from your power company. With this sort of rate plan you pay more for power during the peak time (usually afternoon) and you pay a lot less at night and other times when demand is low. The details of the plan will vary and sometimes your power company will offer several different plans to choose from so you can pick one that meets your needs.
I get my power from PG&E, and they have a few different time of use plans to chose from. The rate plan I’m currently on charges me extra for power from 4-9 PM on weekdays, but I pay significantly less for any power the rest of the time. I run my lights 9pm-9am in flower and 9pm-3pm in the veg room, so during peak power time all my lights are off and my grow is barely using any power. I also try to do my laundry and any other stuff that uses a lot of power during the weekends or at night to take advantage of that cheap power.
These sorts of plans can save you significant money if you can shift your power usage away from peak times, and for most growers that just means shifting your light cycle to avoid peak and signing up for the plan in the first place. Taking advantage of these types of rate plans help you, your electric company, and the environment, so get in touch with your power company and start benefiting today.
3.) Take advantage of programs offered by your power company to help you save (but don’t cheat or be a jerk about it)
Power companies often have programs you can sign up for to save money on your power bill. PG&E offers a program called “CARE” with special reduced rates for low income customers. Since I live on a fairly small annual income I qualify for this program and I am really thankful I am able to get the discount as it saves me 20-50% off my bill each month.
This program had a lot of problems with abuse in the past and they’ve added some restrictions to counter that. In the early days of the CARE program, it was really easy to get the discount, so tons of cannabis growers signed up. Black market growers running huge grows with tons of lights were able to sign up for this “low income” program and get huge discounts off their massive power bills. “low income” black market growers saving 50% on their +$12,000 a month power bill didn’t go over well with PG&E and made growers look like jerks for taking advantage of a program intended to help low income people.
I’m all for people saving money, but lets not abuse programs intended to help lower income people. These discounts are really critical for helping a lot of low income families (including mine) afford their bills. It was dumb of PG&E to offer these discounts without any kind of verification process, but it was also not cool of growers making lots of money to abuse a program intended to help those that are less fortunate.
PG&E now requires me to send a tax return in every few years so they can verify I am under the income limit, and I have to keep my power usage under “6 times the baseline amount”, which limits how much power I can use each month (and therefore limits the size of my grow). So if you are making lots of money or you have a huge grow that uses a lot of power, you are no longer able to get the CARE discount. For someone like me who lives on a small income and has a personal sized grow, its been a wonderful program and has saved me thousands of dollars over the years I’ve been growing my own medicine.
Your power company might not have a program exactly like this, but they usually offer several different programs or special deals you can take advantage of, so call them up and ask what they can do to help you save money on your bill. PG&E also had a program where they gave me a discount if I let them come out to my house and install some weather stripping on my windows, swap out my light bulbs with LEDs and do some other stuff like that. I made an appointment for them to send someone out, a guy came to my house and gave me some free led light bulbs and some other free energy efficiency stuff and I got a small discount on my bill. Cool stuff! Thanks PG&E!
4.) Run your Veg lights for 18hrs not 24hrs
This might seem obvious, but a lot of people are still running their veg lights 24hrs a day. While this does work, there isn’t really any major benefit to running your veg lights longer than 18hrs a day. You won’t see more growth or extra performance from running your lights more than 18 hours, so use a timer to turn your lights off for a 6 hour period each day and enjoy the savings.
5.) Upgrade to more efficient grow gear
The power company charges you based by how many watts of power you use each month, so upgrading to equipment that can do the same job while using less watts saves you money. Upgrading costs money, but if you are upgrading to equipment that will lower your energy bill, that upgrade will eventually pay for itself. Its always hard to scrounge up the money for grow upgrades, but that old inefficient equipment you are still using is wasting power every day and thats costing you money. The sooner you upgrade, the sooner you can start saving on your bills.
The obvious place to start is your lights. Swapping out your 1000w HPS light for a 600W led will save you a ton on your power bill! Not only are you using 400 less watts to light your room, the led is also putting out a lot less heat which means you will be saving wattage (and $) on your cooling too.
Don’t forget to upgrade your veg lighting. Veg lights are typically lower wattage than flowering lights, but since you are running them 18hrs a day they still use a good deal of power. Upgrading your veg lights can also mean getting better growth, which can lead to shorter veg times, and that saves you even more money.
Efficiency matters with your other grow equipment too. Air conditioners are rated with a “SEER” rating that indicates how much cooling you get for the electricity that was consumed. Higher SEER ratings are better, but also usually increase the cost of the air conditioner itself. A cheap window ac might cost a lot less than a fancy mini split, but the mini split will have a much higher SEER rating, and will consume a lot less power than the window unit to cool the same space. Depending on your grow, your AC might be running a lot, so upgrading to a more efficient unit could save you a lot of money. Spend a little extra and get the most efficient unit you can, it will save you money in the long run.
Dehumidifiers are typically rated in pints per day to show how much water they can remove per day, but they are also rated in Pints per Kilowatt Hour, which is how much water they remove from the air per 1000w of power they consume. Upgrading to something like a Quest Dehumidifier might seem expensive, but since its using about half the power of a standard dehumidifier to do the same job, it will save you a lot of money over the life of the unit.
Upgrades can be expensive, but so is power! Running old inefficient gear is COSTING you extra money on your bill each month! Spending the money to buy efficient gear means you get to save money on your bill each month. The up front costs can be painful, but over the long run you will end up spending a lot less money. The sooner you upgrade the sooner you start saving!
Now that you are saving some money on your power bill each month, how about signing up for a DGC Membership or making a donation to help support the show? The Dude, Scotty, Guru and the rest of the gang are working hard to give us all great content to enjoy and to spread the word about cannabis!
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