What are the top energy efficiency measures for dairy farms to consider?

Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on energy efficiency measures for dairy farms. In Appendix 2 of NCAT’s report “Farm Energy Audits: Availability, Usefulness, and Cost“(Audit Program Profiles), we asked several agricultural energy efficiency programs “What are the most common energy-saving measures included in your recommendations?” The following three answers were directly relevant to dairies:

  1. Alliant Energy said, “Vacuum pumps, transfer systems, compressors, water heaters.”
  2. Efficiency Vermont said, “Plate coolers, variable frequency drives on milk vacuum pumps, electric heat or hot water fuel switches, lighting, variable speed drives on milk-transfer systems, heat recovery units.”
  3. Focus on Energy said, Plate coolers, VSD vacuum pumps, refrigeration system heat recovery, and commercial liquid propane and natural water heating systems.
  4. I also highly recommend Scott Sanford’s article:
    Capturing Energy Savings on Dairy Farms : www.aceee.org/conf/af05/05agsanfordIc.pdfObviously no two farms are alike. But based on my conversations with experts, I’d go out on a limb and say the top three energy efficiency technologies are probably refrigeration system heat recovery, well water pre-coolers (plate coolers), and variable-speed vacuum pumps.Lighting improvements also often have very short paybacks. And simple maintenance (e.g. cleaning fans, louvers, and condensers) can save surprisingly large amounts of energy with little or no capital cost.Scroll compressors, variable-speed milk pumps, and high-volume-low-speed fans are often well worth doing, but tend to have somewhat longer paybacks.Also see ATTRA’s Dairy Energy Efficiency Resources publication.