I’m interested in starting an indoor garden in the new year, but I’m worried about the cost of setting up a growroom. Do you have any tips on how can I keep my initial costs down, but also set myself up so I can save on electricity down the road?
Thank you for your question, Nick. Most of your indoor gardening costs should come from a combination of environmental conditioning and artificial lighting, so those are logical places to start looking to make some savings.
When planning where to put your indoor garden, consider normal ambient temperatures for the area. An attic that already reaches temperatures of over 100°F (37.7°C) in the summer would require substantial insulating and air conditioning to be usable. A space that normally would stay at comfortable room temperatures is much easier to maintain as only the additional waste heat from the equipment has to be dealt with. While not always practical, running the lights during the cooler dark hours can be another cheap way to help with summer temperatures. Although their original cost is higher and they are not suitable for primary circulation, a solar fan can add an additional air circulation boost during the hottest parts of the day without adding to electrical costs. Also, while vented hoods with ducting and a fan are more expensive to set up than a naked bulb, the additional cooling means the lights can be closer to the plants and more efficient to run.
One way to save costs on indoor lighting is to supplement with natural lighting. Windows, skylights, and even physically moving plants outside during the day can add kilowatts of additional light without increasing the electric bill.
As a final tip, prepare your garden with the assumption that there will be a liquid spill at some point. Removing carpets or laying down a protective plastic sheeting barrier to start with can help prevent water damage expenses in the event of an accident.
Planning is an important part of indoor gardening, and finding solutions for anticipated situations in advance can make a huge difference in the success and ease of indoor gardening.