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Rein In Your Barn’s Energy Consumption

With a growing global population and increasing energy demands, the need for sustainable energy consumption has never been more pressing. Energy usage is the largest contributor to climate change, responsible for approximately 35% of all greenhouse emissions. In the U.S. economy, about two thirds of that energy is wasted each year.

Why does climate change matter to horse-owners? Changes in climate can affect crops and grasses, leading to impacts on your horse’s health. Scientists have found higher concentration of sugars in grasses, raising the risk of issues like laminitis. Feeding more hay and less grass is an option, but with the increased frequency of drought and other farming disasters, supply of hay has dropped and prices have soared!

Renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind, and solar are great options to incorporate because they often generate enough power to sell back to the grid. While we’d love to encourage the equestrian community to generate clean energy on their farms, we know that’s not always possible. Here are a few simple ways to reduce energy use in the barn and consume responsibly:

Choose Electric Over Gas

Whenever it’s possible, opt for electric over gas-powered models when purchasing farm tools like tractors, leaf blowers, and farm carts/ATVs. According to Smithsonian Magazine, a diesel tractor emits carbon and particulate matter equal to that of 14 cars, all being released into the atmosphere and directly contributing to climate change. That being said, replacing just one machine can make a remarkable difference.

Minimize Wasted Energy

We waste more energy in our day-to-day lives than we might think, often referred to as phantom power. A common example is the energy used to power microwave clocks (common in many tack rooms or barn offices), which are wasting energy about 99% of the time. By taking the time to unplug your microwave when it’s not in use, you can reduce wasted energy to almost zero. Of course, don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room or are finished in the barn as well.

Replace Incandescent or Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) with LEDs

Switch out your old CFL bulbs and replace them with energy efficient LED’s. This could save up to 85% more energy. Not to mention, LED’s last 20 years compared to a CFL bulb’s 5-16 years. This is particularly useful for indoor arenas, which use large quantities of electricity and changing bulbs may be difficult.

Solar Alternatives

You don’t need to cover your barn roof in solar panels to take advantage of the sun’s power. Passive solar fans use small solar panels built into the fan to harness the energy needed to blow cool air. Relying on solar powered landscape lighting for night check is another simple way to reduce energy consumption. Not only do these small changes cut down on electricity usage from an emission standpoint, but they will also reduce your electric bill.

Set greener standards for your barn by following these simple steps to reduce your energy consumption and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. These small changes within your barn not only impact your wallet, but promote a more sustainable and resilient society. Let’s all join together to make a difference both in the equestrian community and the world to create a better future for ourselves and our horses.

This article was written by Green Is the New Blue intern Emily Wasser, a senior at Roanoke College majoring in Environmental Studies and Political Science. Green Is the New Blue’s internship program for environmental studies majors empowers college equestrians to implement sustainable practices and advocate for a sustainable sport.

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