Smarter energy use reduces farm costs

13 Nov, 2018 04:00 PM
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An energy audit can help farmers make informed decisions about where to invest and save money in the long term.
We would not hesitate to recommend that other farmers conduct even a basic audit of their energy use
An energy audit can help farmers make informed decisions about where to invest and save money in the long term.

Amidst rising farm costs, Dairy Australia has developed a range of energy information resources to assist farmers to make smarter use of energy to reduce power bills.

The Smarter Energy on Dairy Farms booklet, a straightforward guide to reducing dairy farm electricity bills, is now available online at the Dairying for Tomorrow website.

A short guide to energy-related funding for farmers has also been published.

The guide links to a range of grants ranging from government funding to conduct energy audits to Clean Energy Finance programs from NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank.

Dairy Australia program manager Alison Kelly said energy audits provided an opportunity to save money by reviewing and reducing running costs.

"Energy is a major but unavoidable expense for dairy businesses, and farmers want to understand their options to reduce costs," Mrs Kelly said.

"Farmers could reduce their power bills and make their operations more sustainable at the same time by conducting a simple energy audit and implementing any suggested changes.

"If you conduct an energy audit, you will be provided with a breakdown of your energy use so you can identify how to reduce costs.

"You will be given a cost-saving estimate for each of the options available to you, so you can make informed decisions about where to invest and save money in the long term."

For South Australian dairy farmer Michael Connor, conducting an energy audit on his Mt Compass farm, Nangkita Hills Dairy, provided clear and simple opportunities for savings.

Facing year-on-year increases to power bills on his 550-cow farm, Mr Connor and his team decided an energy audit was an important step forward.

"Costs are continuing to go up and the entire dairy industry is being affected," Mr Connor said. "Through an energy audit, we were able to maximise efficiency and really understand what we can do to minimise energy costs."

The energy audit analysed all of the meters and power use in the dairy shed and across the farm.

At the conclusion of the audit, an extensive report was provided that outlined ongoing energy costs and areas where simple changes could be made to produce significant savings.

The energy audit gave Mr Connor a better understanding of the multilayered on-and-off-peak energy system in South Australia, meaning he was able to save money by adjusting his milking and irrigation routine.

"We were still using the same amount of power but by understanding the best times to operate the dairy and irrigate, we were able to be strategic and save money while not necessarily reducing energy consumption," Mr Connor said.

Since the audit, Mr Connor has planned his power use and adjusted timers to minimise maximum load.

"We would not hesitate to recommend that other farmers conduct even a basic audit of their energy use," he said.

"An independent consultant is able to come to your farm and make meaningful recommendations, giving you a good return on your investment."

To access Dairy Australia's energy resources, including the Smarter Energy on Dairy Farms booklet and funding guide, visit dairyingfortomorrow.com.au/tackling-specific-issues/energy-2.

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