Energy efficiency audit
Tuesday 21st of September 2021 | Posted In: News and Views

Why energy efficiency is not boring

Energy efficiency is not boring because it’s one of the cheapest ways to save energy and protect you from ‘spending money that wastes money’ – this term is explained further below. Solar panels on the roof and the latest LED technology are visible evidence of our energy saving efforts while Energy Efficiency is invisible, admittedly making it a bit of a yawn, which is the whole point isn’t it? Energy Efficiency is energy not used, and by default Pounds not spent.

So, lets explain energy efficiency without introducing the yawn factor.

  • If you bought a 140kW tractor to disc a three-meter row, you wasted money because an 88kW tractor is big enough.
  • At say £95,000 for the big tractor and £50,000 for the 88kW tractor, you spent £45,000 more than you needed to, or wasted £865 per tractor kW.

Energy efficiency is similar

From the tractor example above, be wary of buying energy saving technologies that drive losses because they compound your losses. Simply put, you spend money to waste money.


  • For example, it’s easy enough to see that there’s no reason to buy a 150kW generator to drive a 55kW pump, because a 75kW generator is big enough.
  • As per the tractor example, the generator example relates to Capital Expenditure (Capex). It’s silly and wasteful to spend unnecessary Capital, however, energy efficiency additionally saves running costs. (Unless we buy a pick-up of course. We all know that those inconvenient economic, ‘make-sense’ rules do not apply to the Farmer’s pick-up, but that’s a different thing altogether and should be left well alone).
  • Anyway, here is how it works, say our system is of such a nature that it’s 20% inefficient. We waste 20% when it runs, and we potentially bought 20% more technology than we needed to. (Admittedly this is simplistic; however, the concepts are significant).
  • Thus, Energy Efficiency saves both running costs and possible capital spending.
  • For instance, if for whatever reason a cold-room or pumping system wastes 20%, to compensate for the loss, we must run the pump or refrigeration longer or buy bigger equipment to get the work done.
  • Our experience shows that nearly every farm or factory has systems like that. The good news is that we can fix them with Energy Efficiency.
  • Hopefully by now Energy Efficiency is losing some of its yawn factor?


Finally, some DIY Energy Efficiency ‘nuts and bolts’


  • At random, let’s compare solar power with Energy Efficiency. Which is a better option?
  • A quick internet search shows that solar power cost about £1,111.00 per kW installed, whereas variable speed drives (VSDs’) cost about £75.00 per kW installed.


  • In case you are not aware, VSDs’ are fantastic energy saving gadgets. They yield exponential energy savings as they change motor speeds. Contact NFU Energy for more information.
  •  Let’s assume an existing 37kW pumping system with the potential to save 15% using a VSD.
  • Thus 15% x 37kW = 5.5kW saved by the VSD.
  • As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the 5.5kW saved is the ‘invisible’ load or energy not bought.
  • A 37kW VSD costs £2,775.00 whereas the solar system costs £83,325.00.
  • By first implementing the Energy Efficiency, we avoid buying 5.5kW solar power at £1,111.00 per kW and thus saving ourselves £6,166.00.
  • Put another way, 15% of the Solar Power does nothing but drive losses, we spent £6k+ to endorse our losses and achieve nothing.
  • As mentioned earlier, this is simplistic, but not irrelevant when compounded over an entire farming operation or system.


What next?


  • Make energy efficiency part of your energy saving and energy management strategy.
  • Employ reputable suppliers and service providers like NFU Energy to assess your total energy profile before implementing your energy strategy.
  • Renewables and equivalent technologies are firmly written into our future, however, ensure you buy only what you need by first optimising the systems they serve.