Energy efficiency in agriculture and horticulture

A decrease in your energy costs can lead to a direct increase in profits. We’ve put together a list of different ways in which you could be more energy efficient - from simple, free measures to longer-term savings enabled by some investment.

With more consumers demanding their products are made in an environmentally-friendly way, becoming energy efficient can be good for publicity as well as the bottom line. Being proactive about energy efficiency measures and taking steps to reduce your consumption could result in bills that are 18-25% lower, usually getting your money back in less than 18 months.

Who is this guide for?

Agriculture & horticulture

Simple no-cost changes

Heating energy efficiency


  • Avoid opening doors and windows when the heating is on because the thermostat will sense a change in temperature and fire more heat.
  • Ensure temperature controls match the requirements of the environment. This means you should review them seasonally, based on the weather and with daylight savings.
  • Clean the glass in greenhouses regularly to maintain optimum light and heat transfer from the sun.
  • During the night, a reduced temperature of 10°C is sufficient for most buildings.
  • MYTH: Boilers don’t need to be on for the whole year because you won’t use heating the whole year. TRUTH: Keep it running only hot water and save 5%.
Lighting energy efficiency


  • Accounts for 4% of bills across this sector and you could reduce it by up to 50% with simple steps. The first step is to have a switch-off policy. Involve your staff in the best ways to achieve this as they will appreciate being consulted and could help you come up with creative ideas.
  • Use simple light switch stickers so everyone feels confident that they are turning off the right light! The Carbon Trust website has printable posters and labels you can use.
  • Keep windows, skylights and light fittings clean as basic maintenance could reduce costs by 15%.
  • MYTH: Starting fluorescent lights wastes more energy than having them permanently on.
Ventilation and air energy efficiency

Ventilation & air circulation

Accounts for 14% of energy bills in this sector, so try to take advantage of natural ventilation and free cooling with doors and windows when it’s warm outside and halve costs. Make sure you don’t do it in such a way that it poses a risk to your business or staff.
Make sure air ducts and inlets are clean and smooth. It’s a simple measure but it can increase efficiency by 20% and improve fan motor life.
MYTH: Switching off an extractor fan will not save costs. TRUTH: It might use little energy at minimum levels but it increases the need for heat by around 5%

Refrigeration energy efficiency

Refrigeration equipment

  • Don’t overcool! Each degree can account for 2-4% of refrigeration costs. Up to 20% of the energy used for refrigeration could be cut with little or no cost.
  • Don’t overcrowd refrigerators and keep them away from heat sources.
  • Put reminders on chiller doors to encourage employees to keep them shut.
  • Defrost regularly, check door seals are in place and keep condensers free of dust.
  • Clean condensers to avoid a 20% increase in consumption.
Building fabric energy efficiency

Building fabric

  • Check your building for damp once a year before winter and look for issues like faulty gutters or split downpipes.
  • Reduce heat loss via delivery doors and docking bays by keeping them shut as much as possible.
  • 25% of a building’s heat escapes through the roof, so carry out regular checks for moisture and rodents which could damage insulation and make holes, causing the heat loss.

Straightforward low-cost changes

Heating energy efficiency


  • Use switches or thermostats that allow you a finer control of heating based on time, the day of the week or even the season. A smart thermostat can even allow you to control heating remotely via your smartphone.
  • Is your thermostat affected by its location? Moving it could incur a small cost but it will mean it’s more accurate if not affected by radiator heat or placed in a draughty place.
  • Maintain boilers and pipe work. Having your gas boiler serviced annually and the oil boiler serviced twice a year could save you 10% on heating costs.
Ventilation and air energy efficiency

Ventilation & air circulation

  • Make sure you review the performance of your ventilation and air circulation systems. If you’re not getting the desired results, there might be a fault with certain parts that you could easily replace. A system that is well maintained every year could lead to a 60% increase in efficiency.
  • Check the energy efficiency rating on your fans and buy the highest rating when they need to be replaced.
Lighting energy efficiency


  • Use timers to match working hours and/or occupancy of the space so your lights are automated and there’s no risk of forgetting to switch off when you clock out.
  • Replace conventional bulbs with energy-saving Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL bulbs) – they last 8x longer and use 80% less energy. What’s more, LEDs could give you 30,000-50,000 hours of extra use.
Building fabric energy efficiency

Building fabric

  • If you can insert a 1p coin on its side between a window or door and its frame, fit draught strips.
Refrigeration energy efficiency


  • Install self-closing doors or strip curtains to minimise cooled air loss.
  • When buying new equipment, go for higher efficiency overall rather than low cost upfront.

Cost per lamp: LEDs vs CFLs vs halogens

  LED CFL Halogen
Watts (equivalent lamps) 6W 11W 35W
Purchase per lamp £6.00 £3.50 £2.00
Typical annual lamp use (hours) 1,000h 1,000h 1,000h
Typical lamp lifetime (in hours) 30,000h 10,000h 2,000h
Typical lamp lifetime (years) 30 years 10 years 2 years
Cost of lamp purchases over 30 years £6.00 £10.50 £30.00
Annual energy consumption per lamp 6kW 11kW 35kW
Annual electricity cost per lamp at 14.05/kW £0.84 £1.55 £4.92
Total cost per lamp per year (Averaged over a typical LED malp life - 30 years) £1.04 per year £1.90 per year £5.92 per year

*Data from the Energy Saving Trust's "Selecting low energy lighting" guide.

Long-term savings from the right investments

Heating energy efficiency
  • Consider investing in radiant heating solutions which bounce back heat in spaces with high ceilings and high ventilation.
  • Insulate to save on heating costs. You could get a payback in the first few months by insulating pipes, boilers and tanks.
  • Upgrade your heating controls. For example, using a compensator which works based on external weather to regulate the temperature and reduce energy use, or an optimum start controller which optimises heating based on the time it takes to reach the desired temperature. These two devices could give you a return on investment in about 2 years.
  • Invest in thermal screens to reduce heat loss from greenhouses by up to 30%.
Ventilation and air energy efficiency

Ventilation & air circulation

  • Consider fitting variable speed drives to match the speed at which your equipment is running to situations and processes (more on the Carbon Trust website).
  • Investing in interlocked control via time switches and sensors means ventilation is automatically turned off when specific equipment is turned off. Depending on what you use, this could be a great improvement in energy efficiency.
Building fabric energy efficiency

Building fabric

  • Better insulation increases the value of the buildings as well as lowering costs, so consider upgrading windows, doors and insulation alongside other refurbishments. Did you know that insulating pipework can reduce energy loss by 70%?
  • If you have a large surface area, becoming a renewable energy generator could be a viable additional source of income by selling the extra energy back to the grid.
Lighting energy efficiency


  • Occupancy sensors in toilets or less-frequently used areas can save between 30% and 50% on lighting costs, while daylight sensors turn lights off when there is enough natural daylight.

Action plan


Start by making a note of your current consumption.

By default, your smart meter will record consumption data in 30-minute intervals. You can use this starting point as a benchmark.


Do you notice any variations during the year?

Make a note of them and think about what could cause them. For example, if your business is affected by the weather, you could save energy by investing in better insulation and save money in the long term.


Benchmark your current energy use

How does it compare to last year or last season? Make sure you analyse similar time periods (for example, December 2018 with December 2019) to make sure the improvement in efficiency isn’t influenced by other factors.


How much are you going to reduce your consumption by?

Set a realistic goal and a target date of when you’ll measure consumption again to track how you’re doing.


Choose the steps you’ll take to achieve those goals

Use the categories above to put advice into practice and involve your employees. To motivate staff, try to make it into a competition. Why not offer a free meal out to the team that comes up with the most energy saving ideas or commit to donating the savings to a local charity that they choose?


Make the changes and measure the results

Communicate all improvements with your staff, no matter how small, to encourage an energy efficient state of mind. And when you're ready to make more changes to become energy efficient, come back to this action plan and start again.

The facts, figures and advice have been sourced from the Carbon Trust, Energy Trust and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (formerly known as the Department of Energy and Climate Change).