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Ask a Grower

Ask-a-Grower #101

Are there any ways to cut down the costs of hydroponic gardening?

There are tons of ways to cut costs in your garden without sacrificing your yield. Typically, in most hydroponic gardens, the electric bill becomes the greatest financial obstacle. But, luckily, there are a few simple ideas that may help you cut down on that big utility bill.

First, and foremost, run your HID lights at night! It’s important to understand that the price of electricity fluctuates throughout the day. Between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., electricity is sold at a reduced rate referred to as off-peak hours. Electricity is almost 40% cheaper during off-peak hours; so, if you can, run your lights at night when electricity is the cheapest. Actually, try to run everything at night: the dishwasher, the washing machine, everything. Now, running your lights at night is not only cheaper, but it is more strategic. Typically, it’s cooler at nighttime. This means you will have to run less air conditioning because you will not have to combat high outside temperatures.

Any opportunity you have to run less air conditioning, you should jump on it. One of my favorite ways to cool a room and eliminate air conditioning is to cool your lights with cool, nighttime air. To do this, instead of just capping off the first light on the circuit, use ducting to bring in cool, outside air and use your inline fan to suck that air through the ducted lighting system and out of your garden. This will allow you to place your lights closer to your garden canopy without the use of extra ac.

In addition to being strategic about your electricity consumption, using energy efficient items such as digital ballasts is a great way to mitigate the high costs of electricity. They may cost a little more at the counter, but they will pay for themselves many times over in the long run.