A consultant told me about a client that continued using practices that were wasting money and not increasing profits. Out of frustration, she asked the client for any change in his pockets. He forked over several coins worth slightly over two dollars. She picked out one coin and tossed it as far as she could. Then she picked out another coin and tossed it in another direction. At this point the client asked her what she was doing. She replied, "The same thing that you are doing." He objected saying that he does not throw money away. "Yes you do," she replied. "You're throwing money away every day that you keep doing the wasteful practices we've talked about."
Using inefficient practices and not using energy efficient equipment can be some of the ways that dairy producers or managers waste energy and throw away potential profits. An energy audit by a trained and certified farm energy auditor can help you identify practices and equipment that are wasting energy. Data presented in farm energy audit training organized by The Minnesota Project indicated that dairy farms use about 3.5 to 4.5 kWh of electricity per hundredweight of milk produced. Electrical energy costs can be roughly $120 per cow per year.
The Minnesota Project is a non-profit organization that champions sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in Minnesota communities. They have organized Farm Energy Auditor Training sessions in 2011 and 2013. Successful graduates of the program are qualified to perform farm energy audits in accordance with ANSI/ASABE Standard 612. Energy audits done using Standard 612 can qualify producers and business owners for local, state and federal energy conservation programs. Standard 612 is used by USDA as the official standard for audits submitted with applications to its energy efficiency programs.
An energy audit is a systematic examination and assessment of a dairy operation's equipment and energy use data. With the farm owner's permission, a well-trained auditor will obtain at least one year of gas and electric use records from the farm's utility suppliers. An auditor will also conduct a thorough farm visit to identify and inventory equipment that uses energy. The audit should develop a list of all electrical motors on ventilating and air mixing fans, milk, vacuum, water and manure pumps, compressors, feed augers and conveyors. The audit will list equipment and estimate energy used for heating water for feeding calves, laundering towels used during milking preparation and pasteurizing milk for calves. Energy used for cooling milk with water pre-coolers and refrigeration heat recovery units is noted too. Additional essential data includes the amount of water used for cleaning the bulk tank and other milking equipment and the hot water temperature. A lighting inventory is also conducted throughout the operation to assess light levels and estimate the amount of energy used for lighting based on the equipment used and the estimated amount of time that the lights are on.