With the information collected and energy calculating software, farm energy auditors can assess energy use and identify potential ways or equipment to save energy. Good auditors will look for cost sharing programs through local utilities or conservation programs. They also estimate the return on investment or the time for the energy savings to repay for the amount of money invested in new equipment.
Some commonly recommended energy saving equipment for dairy farms includes:
- Refrigeration heat recovery units that capture waste heat from the refrigeration unit to pre-heat water for hot water uses.
- Well-water cooled pre-cooler units that use a heat exchange and well-water to cool milk before it enters a refrigerated storage tank.
- Scroll type refrigeration compressors that are more energy efficient than reciprocating compressors.
- Variable frequency drives on vacuum pump motors can slow down vacuum pumps to maintain proper vacuum levels needed for milking and speed up to provide the vacuum needed during cleaning.
- Variable speed milk pumps are used with pre-coolers to match the milk flow rate with the well-water flow rate to obtain more milk pre-cooling.
- High efficiency water heaters with greater than 90% thermal efficiency.
- Fluorescent or light emitting diode (LED) lighting that replace incandescent lights.
Producers interested in conducting their own audit can visit www.ruralenergy.wisc.edu. This is a website for assessing energy conservation on a dairy farm.
Dairy producers interested in finding a trained farm energy auditor are encouraged to visit the Minnesota Project website at www.mnproject.org. An experienced auditor can help by digging into the details necessary to ferret out potential energy savings practices. A good audit can provide owners and managers with information to decide if energy savings practices and equipment make sense for them. An energy audit will help you stop throwing money away every minute that your inefficient equipment is running.
Learn more about dairy farm energy audits at the Summer Dairy Field Day to be held August 28, 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Gary Hoffman farm, 9500 Hwy 30 SE, Chatfield, MN.