Don’t Let Inefficient Fans Rack Up Your Electricity Bill

04:12PM Feb 19, 2020
Hybrid Dairy Barn
Fans are angled downward 22° to push air over freestall beds.
( Gordie Jones )

Have you noticed your electricity bill starting to climb up? Maybe it’s time to check the efficiency of your fans.

The energy used to operate ventilation systems on the farm typically accounts for 20-25% of your total energy bill, according to Dan McFarland, an agricultural engineer at Pennsylvania State University.  Regardless of the barn style, proper ventilation is an important part of cow comfort to ensure cows are in an environment that allows them to perform to their potential. Here are three areas to focus on when analyzing your ventilation system’s efficiency:

Efficiency Rating

While the purpose of every fan is to get air moving, not every fan is created equal. Fan efficiency is affected by several factors including blade design, fan enclosure design, and motor efficiency, according to McFarland.

“There has been too much emphasis on ‘cheap’ fans in the ag industry and this is costing more in operating expense and maintenance. If you are looking to buy new fans, make sure you take a look at the efficiency rating of the fans as you compare,” McFarland says. “Typically, larger fan will have better efficiency than smaller fans.”


When searching for a more efficient fan, it is important to keep in mind where the fan will be used, whether it be in the calf barn, freestall barn or parlor.

“Different fans are designed and manufactured for different applications,” McFarland says. “Make sure you choose well-built and efficient fans and then regularly maintaining those fans goes a long way in helping to achieve the ventilation needs of the shelter while keeping energy costs in check on the dairy.”


According to McFarland, as little as 1/8 inch of dirt on fan blades can significantly reduce fan performance.

“Possibly the best thing you can do to improve the efficiency of your ventilation system is to simply maintain your fans. Poor maintenance, mostly lack of cleaning, can reduce efficiency by as much as 40%. What this means is the electric bill stays the same, but less air is moving in the barn,” McFarland says.

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