By Jim Dickrell
Having a third party conduct an energy usage audit of your dairy could save you anywhere from a few hundred dollars per month to several thousand, depending on what the auditor finds and the size of your dairy.
And the audits usually can be done for little or no cost, says Alison McKechie, director of sustainability projects for Dairy Management, Inc's. Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. McKechie met with Dairy Today Thursday here at World Dairy Expo.
The Innovation Center can help dairy producers find auditors in their states who can suggest a range of activities to reduce energy use on your dairy. Go to: www.USDairy.com/sustainability. These audits are non-regulatory, but are an important step in evaluating what upgrades are appropriate and what the costs and benefits of each step are, says McKechie.
The Innovation Center, with the help of EnSave, Inc. (www.ensave.com), has already trained 55 auditors in Florida, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. More auditors will be trained in another six states by early next year.
"We're really taking a holistic approach to the audits, looking at everything on the dairy and then creating a roadmap of where the energy savings exist,” says McKechie.
Some changes may be as simple as changing the routine of daily chores, starting up motors at different times so as not to trigger higher peak-use rates. These savings can be substantial, from $50 per month on smaller dairies to several hundred dollars on large farms. Other energy saving ideas are insulating water heat piping or changing light fixtures to more energy-efficient bulbs.
McKechie also notes that most of the auditors have also been trained in helping producers apply for grants to help finance more expensive changes. Often, these grants can cut a payback time frame in half, she says.