In this article, CAFRE’s Richard Gibson discusses monitoring energy costs and provides practical tips to reduce water heating costs.
Monitor energy costs
Energy costs continue to increase. Data collected across several Business Development Groups in Co. Down suggests a significant variation in total electricity usage between farms.
CAFRE dairy benchmarking also highlights an electricity cost range from 0.5 ppl to 1.0 ppl in 2021.
With this cost set to increase, there is significant potential for farmers to make savings.
Milk cooling, water heating and the vacuum pump each account for 25-30% of total electricity consumption. Lighting, heating and ventilation use the remainder.
Water heating and milk cooling offer the greatest potential for saving and you should review this first.
Practical tips to reduce water heating costs include:
- Insulate all pipework and ensure the hot water tank is well insulated. Trials show that an uninsulated water heater can lose up to 50% of heat within 17 hours. This compares to just 5% for a well-insulated heater.
- Place the heater as close as possible to the point of use to minimise the length of pipework required and the potential for heat loss.
- Maximise the use of cheap rate electricity. Fit a time switch to your heater and make sure it is set correctly. This is especially important if the power has been off, even for a few hours.
- Consider a Heat Recovery Unit (HRU). You can connect this to the refrigeration system of your bulk tank and uses waste heat to pre-heat water before it enters the heater. Depending on the size and number of compressors and the type of bulk tank, a HRU can recover as much as 50% of heat extracted from the unit.
Other top tips for farmers:
Nigel Gould, CAFRE beef and sheep adviser, Enniskillen, outlines how farmers can record and plan their way towards increased flock efficiency.