”What I do know is what this system gives me,” Michael continued, pointing to the system. “I get around 100 kilowatt-hours per day from this one — more or less. A lot more in June-July, a lot less in the winter. All of it gets used up. If it doesn’t, it goes into the grid and I still get some credit for it. If not for panels, I would use commercial electricity, right? I think, right now I pay a little over 16 cents for kilowatt-hour — not the best rate but definitely not the worst either. So with this system I get up to $16 every day. In one month it can go up to $480 and in one year it’s almost six grand, maybe five and half. When I do this math in my head, I know it was a fine choice. Yes, it won’t pay for itself tomorrow, not the next week, not the next month. But soon enough it will.”
“Good math skills.”
“I’m a farmer, son,” he smirks. “That’s all I do. I tell you, you wanna be a farmer, you’ll have to be prepared to count a lot.”
If you, unlike Michael, really want to know how much electricity you spend as a farmer, there are ways to do it. Usually an electricity bill isn’t detailed, and you don’t know exactly how much power you spend on what. Modern control panels keep count of your energy consumption and provide you with the data on how much power was spent on heating, refrigerating or went to appliances. If you have a solar system with an inverter, modern models also keep track of the energy consumption in the house.
You could also do this the old way: make a table with every appliance that you have and write down its power rating and number of hours in use. Then multiply the two and sum the numbers up. However, this chart is going to change every month and you’ll have to keep a log for at least the whole year.
There is always room for improvement. An energy audit
can reveal the places where you spend the energy inefficiently. As a farmer, you could get a discount for an audit through the REAP program.