Cut your electricity bill by using expensive farm machinery at night and a little common sense
How much money do you pay the ESB each year? I am sure very few of you can find an answer. You pay every two months and that's the end of it.
In any case, you know the farm can't work without it. The one thing you do know for sure is that the bill seems to go up almost every year.
It's a well-known fact that virtually all costs are rising each year on dairy farms. However, tackling them is proving extremely difficult. If you want to tackle rising ESB costs, then the first thing you have to do is find out what it actually costs you to milk the cows and cool a litre of milk.
Looking at Profit Monitor data, electricity costs on dairy farms work out at, on average, 0.5c/l of milk. In other words, for a cow producing 5,000l of milk, the cost burden on the cow is €25. With total production costs today approaching €1,000 per cow, getting excited about a cost that's only 2.5pc of the total bill for the cow is hardly worth bothering about. But, like most things in life, mind the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
Suppliers of services to farmers need to be constantly challenged on what they charge for these services. Otherwise, they will charge what the market will bear and, before you know it, 0.5c/l will become 1c/l.
Incidentally, €25 per cow works out at €2,500 for a 100-cow herd. John Upton from Moorepark has done research on energy costs on dairy farms since January 2009. He initially looked at three Teagasc research farms. The cost of paying for electricity on these farms was 0.6c/l or €30 per cow for 5,000l of milk.
The figures from the three Teagasc farms showed milk cooling was the single largest consumer of electricity. It consumed 32pc of the total cost, followed by water heating (21pc), vacuum pumps (19pc) and lighting (18pc). Other items such as wash pumps, milk pumps, feed augers and air compressors made up the balance (5pc). Milk production data was also collected which allowed electricity costs to be calculated. The figures across the three research farms varied from 0.4-0.62c/l – a difference of 36pc.