Zoning in on farm electricity usage will help keep a lid on overall energy costs
As dairy farmers gear up to expand milk production in 2015 and beyond, the increase in output inevitably means a hike in inputs such as feed and fertiliser but also a hike in energy inputs.
Teagasc researchers examined the cost of electricity on 21 commercial dairy farms and found that while the average cost of electricity equated to 0.49c/l, there was a significant variation between farms.
Some farms were paying as little as 0.23c/l, while others were paying as much as 0.76c/l for their power. On a farm producing 400,000l, this would equate to a difference of €2,100 annually, with electricity charges ranging from €920 to €3,040.
On dairy farms, the amount of electricity used depends chiefly on milk cooling equipment and the amount of hot water used, which are in turn dictated by the number of milking units in the parlour and the level of automation in the milking machine.
When deciding which new or upgraded milking machine and milking cooling equipment to install on your farm, bear in mind that the easiest way to reduce your energy bill is to use effective plate cooling and night rate electricity for your dairy.
As farmers prepare to expand milk production ahead of 2015, here are five of Teagasc's tips for controlling the cost of energy on the farm:
Maximise night rate electricity
Night rate electricity costs approximately half the day rate so try to use as much night-rate electricity as possible. Night rate hours are 11pm-8am during winter time and midnight to 9am for summer time. Where appliances like electrical water heaters are required to operate during night rate hours, digital time clocks with battery backup should be used because analogue timers without battery back up will fall out of sync in power failures.