Save energy. Save resources. Save money. Running a barn is expensive no matter how you look at it, but you can take small steps to reduce energy that will add up over time.
1. Construct a rain barrel—A rain barrel collects water that runs off your roof. While this water is not appropriate for drinking, cooking or bathing (humans), it is perfect for watering plants or sponging off horses. Directions from the Environmental Protection Agency on making your own rain barrel can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region3/p2/make-rainbarrel.pdf.
2. Conserve water—In addition to the rain barrel idea, use a water saving spray nozzle for bathing horses. Consider adding automatic waterers. While they are initially expensive to install, they will decrease the amount of water wasted. If that’s not feasible, recycle old water from the water buckets instead of tossing it out. It can be used to water plants or even bird baths.
3. Reduce waste by pasture boarding—Build some run-in sheds for either year-round or seasonal use—you’ll be able to eliminate bedding from your budget. As long as you have plenty of pasture, you will not need to feed as much hay and grain either. You’ll also lower your electric bills by not having to keep a barn going year round. If pasture board is out, to save money on bedding, consider trying recycled newspaper or pelleted bedding.
4. Save electricity—There are a number of ways to reduce your electric costs. One of the easiest is to do barn chores during daylight hours. Build a barn with lots of windows, sky lights and doors to allow for more natural light and air circulation. Install energy-saving light bulbs, such as T-8 fluorescent lighting, and unplug small appliances when not in use. Consider solar power for items such as the fence charger, fans and hot water heater. You can also use motion detector lights instead of outdoor lights that stay on all night. And put timers on arena lights and lounge heaters for your forgetful boarders.
5. Maximize hot water efficiency—If you don’t have a solar hot water heater, use a timer on the water heater so you have hot water only when you need it. Flush sediment from the tank regularly and insulate your hot water lines.
6. Reuse—Empty supplement containers are great for storing loose items. And we all know that baling twine has thousands of uses. Buy used tack and equipment and sell or donate what you don’t use any more.
7. Recycle—It’s very easy to keep recycling bins or cans around the barn to recycle all sorts of items.
8. Look at your machinery—Match the size of your tractor to the size of the implements so that you are not asking your tractor to do too much. Check that the tires are inflated properly and follow the recommended maintenance schedule for all your equipment.
9. Compost your manure—Among other things, composting helps reduce flies, kills parasites and protects water quality. If you Google “composting horse manure” you will find numerous sources that show you how to build a compost pile. Also, check out these articles from StableManagement.com on composting:
10. Consider doing an energy audit—If you are a large facility, this may pay off for you. An energy audit is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows for energy conservation. The aim is to decrease the amount of energy put in without negatively affecting output.
If you implement only a few of these tips, chances are you’ll see time, energy and cost savings. Your pocketbook and the environment will thank you!