You might begin by reviewing your monthly and yearly accounting records to ensure they are up-to-date. Many of the farmers I met this past year explained that, generally speaking, they know their total monthly electricity or diesel costs.

Their bills are entered each month into the farm’s financial records, but that’s often as far as it goes. Once a bill is paid, well…“out of sight, out of mind” is how one farmer described it.

As you’re getting your bills in order, consider entering the information from them into a farm energy log. A simple Microsoft Excel version is available under the Farm Energy Publications link on our website. Look for the fact sheet “Tracking the Energy Use on Your Farm,” PM 2089C, and the corresponding farm energy log under the Energy Consumption subheading. This form can be customized to fit your needs using formulas or additional worksheets.

When monthly energy consumption and cost are entered into the form, the cost per unit is automatically calculated.

As an example, consider your farm’s electric bill. By entering this month’s kilowatt hours (kWh) and total cost from your statement, the energy log will calculate your cost per kWh.

For fuel sources such as diesel, gasoline or propane, the form will calculate the price per gallon. Previous or future bills also can be added to show changes in cost and volume over time.

“Using an energy log not only shows the total energy expenses, but also how the number of gallons or kilowatt hours used is changing during the year,” says Hanna. “This allows a meaningful comparison of energy consumption from year to year.”

Whether you use our farm energy log or create one that suits your needs, enter your information from each monthly bill and review the results.

Try to get a better sense of the fluctuations in your farm’s energy demands from season to season and year to year. This information can help you minimize your short-term expenses with management techniques, such as adjusting grain drying temperature or hog confinement ventilation settings, to reduce propane or electricity consumption.

Observing yearly trends over the long-run may also help you identify the optimal time to replace your equipment or implement energy efficiency upgrades for barns or buildings.