Farm Energy Efficiency Tips

There are ways to save for every type of farm

By Jonathan Susser

Farm Energy Efficiency Tips

Graphic courtesy of Advanced Energy

Farming and agriculture are energy intensive industries. Energy efficiency practices have the potential to save the agricultural sector more than $1 billion in energy per year, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. No matter the type of farm, energy efficient technologies can help obtain that savings potential.

General energy efficiency options

  1. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. LEDs use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs and CFLs without affecting productivity. In poultry houses, for example, LEDs can be used for both grow and brood lighting. However, before installing LEDs, make sure they are approved by your integrator.
  2. Upgrade ventilation fans. Effective ventilation is essential for managing poultry, swine, dairy farms and more, but it can consume a lot of energy, particularly in warmer weather. Replacing older ventilation fans with high-efficiency options can reduce energy consumption and produce both energy and cost savings. Fan motors can also run more efficiently and last longer when paired with a variable frequency drive (VFD).
  3. Invest in low-energy water management. Keep your animals hydrated with low-energy or energy‑free livestock waterers, which use less energy, keep water fresh and prevent freezing. For crop irrigation, low-pressure sprinkler nozzles reduce pumping demands without limiting water flow, so your crops get the water they need at a lower cost, and your water source pumps last longer.
  4. Set up an engine block heater timer on farming vehicles. For those harsh cold snaps, engine block heaters make sure your vehicle is ready to go, but they do not need to run all night. Installing a timer allows you to start heating the engine just a few hours in advance, saving you energy and money.

Dairy operations

  1. Install dairy plate coolers, VFDs and dairy scroll compressors. Dairy plate coolers can help precool milk before it is stored, VFDs allow milk vacuum pumps to run more efficiently, and dairy scroll compressors can reduce electrical demand and milk cooling costs as compared with reciprocating compressors.
  2. Use a dairy heat reclaimer to reduce waste. Milk collection and storage use a lot of energy and can also result in wastes and losses. A dairy heat reclaimer allows you to capture waste heat from outdoor milk refrigeration units and use it to heat water.

Hog farms

  1. Swap out heat lamps with creep heat pads. Creep heat pads are similar to blankets and can be used for your swine nursery or fowl facilities.

Poultry houses

  1. Pursue residential-like energy efficiency measures. Building science principles used in residential construction can also be applied to agricultural facilities. Air sealing poultry houses can reduce air leaks as well as heating and cooling costs by limiting outside air from entering, and heated/cooled air from leaving. Adding insulation to exterior walls can slow heat transfer to help maintain your desired temperature year-round.
  2. Along with these energy efficiency options, it is also important to conduct routine maintenance on existing systems. Checking lights, coils and fans for dust, for example, can improve and strengthen equipment performance and reduce the need for additional labor and costs down the road.
  3. The agricultural sector is ripe for energy efficiency opportunities. Although these technologies can cost additional money upfront, they help you reduce energy consumption and save money in the long run.

About the Author

Jonathan Susser is a technical writer and editor for Advanced Energy, a nonprofit energy consulting firm.

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