13 Efficient Ways to Reduce Costs When Growing Cannabis

by | Jul 25, 2019

Written by Luis Rivera

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Cannabis growing is an expensive endeavor. There are initial investments in growing equipment and essentials, followed by investments in soil, seeds, nutrients, and fertilizers. Once you consider the investment in artificial lighting and your electricity bill it adds up to a lot!

But can you do something about it? To sufficiently reduce the costs when growing cannabis, first, you need to determine the areas where you could improve.

13 efficient ways to Reduce Costs When Growing Cannabis:

1. Audit You Energy Usage

An energy audit is essential when you want to cut your expenses on cannabis growing. Cultivation facilities run on lighting and electricity. So it’s no wonder why the utility bills are often considered a huge expense in the field.

Measuring the initial usage with smart meters could help set accurate baselines on what the proper solutions might be. When it comes to energy audits, you should know that a lot of energy companies offer free audits for a variety of businesses, including those in the cannabis industry.

You can also run your own procedure. The wattage of the grow lights multiplied by the activity hours per day could be deducted from the energy bill. The figure we get as a result equals the costs of Environmental controls and HVAC systems.

2. Use Energy Saving Lights

The problem with classic lighting solutions like sodium lamps is energy usage. They convert energy that you pay for and turn it into heat, which has to be extracted, using additional energy that reflects on your bills. 

The overall efficiency of conventional lighting technologies (lamps with 250-1000W wattages) is not great. Embracing power-saving solutions like semi or fully-automated LED grow lights installment could be a worthy long-term investment.

Not only do they emit lower heat, but LED lights can also be adjusted to specific plant needs. With LED installations, the spectrum, and intensity of light are adjustable and the grow lights can be set to turn on and off whenever needed. And since less power is converted, there are fewer bills to be paid.

3. Measure the PPFD and DLI

After considering the energy used for cultivation, growers can start working on lighting optimization. Photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) measures the number of protons in the visible spectrum that reaches the plant per second. While daily light integral (DLI) corresponds with the total amount of light received by a plant in a day.

Once you determine the basic lighting needs of your cannabis plant, you can calculate a target DLI that would be optimal for the ultimate growth of the crops. Next, all you need to do is make the correct artificial light adjustments and settings according to the lighting hours your marijuana plants would need.

By reducing the activity time of the supplemental lighting without risking plants’ healthy well-being, cannabis growers are vastly reducing basic energy consumption.

4. Know Your Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD)

Another helpful measure is the vapor pressure deficit (VPD). It indicates the humidity of the air, its temperature, and its evaporation potential. You may use it to set the proper points of what an ideal climate for a photosynthesis process would be in a cannabis-growing facility.

To reduce stress on the machines and equipment, it is an excellent idea to replicate the outside climate conditions inside. For example, in the winter season try keeping the facility cooler, while in the summer run it hotter.

5. Get Equipment with Variable Settings

The right equipment could also really save up on the electricity bill. Variable speed and multi-output solutions prevent plant shock and save on power consumption.

Modern equipment offers way more options than just turning off and on. It has many settings and usually allows control of the voltage. A machine could be started with a lower setting and then slowly the power and intensity could be increased. Such efficient controllable options are ventilation and circulation exhaust fans as well as dimmable LED lights. 

6. Use Good Insulation

The good insulation of indoor crops or a greenhouse setting is essential when a grower tries to provide perfectly adjusted conditions for his plants. The distributive pipes should also be insulated.

When growing cannabis on reduced costs, the cultivator needs to make sure that the piping contents remain at the proper temperature even when the HVAC system is not active in a certain facility area.

By managing pipe heating/cooling through insulation, the grower makes sure that the HVAC system will not be working overtime, more than it needs to. It’s another way to save energy and resources.

Reduce Costs When Growing Cannabis

7. Pick Efficient Fans

The most energy-efficient exhaust fans have a smaller motor and a larger diameter, with a ventilation efficiency factor above 15. This kind of fan uses fewer watts to power a larger fan, so there is no cutting of power in the way of reducing costs.

8. Focus on the Roots

The roots are the most important part of the cannabis plant when it comes to cooling and heating. If the roots get the proper care, the plants are able to withstand harsh temperature conditions.

A great idea would be to install a geothermal system that will heat the roots. By doing so a grower could let the facility’s ambient temperature drop a bit without causing irreversible damage to the plants.

9. Consider the Local Climate When Choosing Seeds and Strains

Cultivators trying to reduce production costs through less climate control should always take local climate as a consideration when it comes to seeds. Try choosing strains with genetics adapted to the cultivation area. Optimizing the growing climate allows the plants to properly adjust to the surrounding temperatures and thrive in their natural habitat.

10.  Don’t go Overboard on Supplements and Nutrients

Nutrient systems and supplements are very common in the horticultural field, including the cannabis industry. It is often considered that a “base nutrient line” provides the perfect mixture of nutrients for the plants to grow healthier.

The truth is, when it comes to marijuana growing, no special supplements are needed to harvest an outstanding bud. The cultivation environment and strain type have way more impact on the final quality than the nutrients. Some of the supplements are completely unnecessary.

One of the best ways to cut the expenses on cannabis growing is to stop making financial investments that are not fundamental for the plant’s well-being. That being said, growers could save tons of money by not wasting on unnecessary supplements for otherwise already healthy plants.

11. Grow Vertically

Another way to reduce costs when growing cannabis is by utilizing space to its full capacity. The best resolution to the spacing problem is vertical growing. Transitioning to a vertical system saves you so much space that you may be able to fit five times more plants in a certain area.

12. Plan Ahead for Scaling the Grow

Planning for scalable growth is crucial if a cultivator wants to keep a secure spot on the cannabis market. To achieve this, growers need to expand their cultivation and start increasing yield. One of the successful ways to expand is by using a vertical growing system that allows stacking grow cubes.

13. Measure Results and Use Them for Future Growing

Increasing efficiency through implementing data-driven systems is a common practice in the cannabis growing field. Such installations can predict emerging problems since they use sensors to send live feedback data to a grower’s app.

The digital monitoring of the plant data in real-time allows growers to determine if the growth conditions are beneficial and healthy. Proper management of the data-driven results is key because they can be used to allocate and implement the best practices in the growing facility.