Dairy farms use more energy than most other farm types and have higher energy costs. Rising electricity prices have increased the need for farmers to control their energy use and costs. For most dairies, being smarter about energy use is a good way to save money and help the environment.
Most dairies use about 80 per cent of their electricity for harvesting milk, cooling milk, and producing hot water, so look here first for savings. Is your equipment operating properly and well maintained (e.g. not running longer than necessary; clean refrigeration evaporator coils)?
Could you take advantage of off-peak or controlled load tariffs and have you compared energy retailers recently? Could you install or upgrade to high-efficiency equipment? Have you considered solar? Have you optimised your irrigation pumping and systems?
There are plenty of actions you can take to cut your energy costs. Here are some resources to get started:
Learn from others — case studies
See some low cost, quick fixes most dairies can implement, in this practical video series by Sustainability Victoria and WestVic Dairy.
Discover how a dairy farm in Carneys Creek, south-east Queensland could save about 20–30 per cent of its energy costs, in this case study by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.
See how a Darling Downs dairy farm cut its irrigation costs, in this case study by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.
Look at Telita Dairy’s energy tariffs and irrigation efficiency initiatives, in this case study by DairyTas.
Read ten case studies (older but relevant) about energy savings from Cow Time (Dairy Australia).
Act now — fact sheets, guides and tools
A good introduction to improving the energy efficiency of a dairy farm is available at Energy in Dairy from Agriculture Victoria, plus there are guides on thermal heat recovery, solar hot water, solar PV, and variable speed drives for the dairy shed.
Find real ways to save and real farmers who’ve done it in Saving energy on dairy farms, a booklet by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and Dairy Australia.
Understand more about energy use in Tasmanian dairy sheds with this fact sheet by DairyTas and Dairy Australia.
Know your options — more help and ideas
Victorian Energy Saver provides tools and information to help Victorian Businesses save energy and money.
- access and understanding energy data
- learn about energy retail offers and contracts
- get government assistance through business grants, training and support
- access discount energy saving products from the Victorian Energy Upgrades program e.g. upgrades to lighting, refrigeration fans, hot water and custom upgrades
- explore renewable energy options with Saving with Solar.