Energy conservation: Impact on the bottom line

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Operating a dairy farm is energy intensive. Lights, fans, pumps and motors consume a lot of electricity. Implementing energy conservation measures (ECMs) reduce the amount of electricity used on the farm, resulting in increased profits.

Dairy farmers who participate in the Energy Optimization energy efficiency program receive rebates to implement ECMs, enabling them to better manage their energy use and save money.

On average, dairy farms that have implemented recommended ECMs have seen a 46 percent reduction in their energy costs. ECMs are straightforward and rebates are plentiful (see chart below).

Energy Conservation Measure

Rebate (restrictions apply)

Low-energy Livestock Waterer


Barn Exhaust Fan

$2 per blade inch

Barn Circulation Fan

$2 per blade inch

Commercial Electric Water Heater for Dairy Milk House


High Performance T8 Fluorescent Lights

$2-20 per fixture

High Bay Light Replacement (i.e., T8 or T5HO linear fluorescent lights)

$20-50 per fixture

CFL bulbs

$1-4 per bulb

LED light bulbs

$8 per lamp

Lighting Occupancy Sensors

$15-30 per sensor

Split system Air Conditioning

$10 per ton

Central Packaged Rooftop AC

$10 per ton

Variable Frequency Drives

$60 per hp. up to 40 percent of project cost (limitations apply)

Commercial Refrigeration

Varies. See non-lighting application

Compressed Air

Varies by utility.

Custom Rebates (i.e., irrigation pump speed controls, irrigation pressure reduction, efficient milk harvesting and cooling equipment, dusk to dawn outdoor lights, etc.)

$0.05 per annual kWh saved up to 40 percent of project cost (limitations apply)

Interested in learning more? Three identical programs sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Milk Producers Association will be held throughout the state to help dairy farmers better understand how to reduce energy expenses. Dates, locations and agenda information can be found in the events section at There is a $5 registration fee payable at the door. Contact Charles Gould, MSU Extension-Ottawa County, at 616-994-4547 or if you have questions.

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