Washing a parlour with hot water© FLPA/Rex Shutterstock

Incorrectly set timers on water heating systems and inefficient plate coolers are two key faults that can add an average of £2,000 to the annual energy costs on Welsh dairy farms.

According to a Wales-wide study involving 250 dairy farms, water heating costs the average milk producer more than it should.

Recommendations from the Energy Efficiency Project, delivered by the Dairy Development Centre at Gelli Aur College in conjunction with DairyCo, include checking the settings on time clocks controlling heating systems.

“We found many cases of water being heated at higher daytime rates because the timing had slipped,’’ said energy efficiency co-ordinator Neil Nicholas.

See also: Simple steps for saving energy on your dairy farm

“Some farmers were also paying a single rate for their electricity when it is usually much more beneficial to have separate day- and nighttime rates. There is an easy gain to be made from a quick phone call to their supplier.’’

The study also found reducing the parlour hot wash to once daily didn’t compromise milk quality. “There is an immediate 50% energy saving and farmers who use a cold wash once a day rarely see a significant change in their bactoscan results.’’

Inefficient plate coolers also added to energy costs.

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A recommendation in the project report is to check the bulk tank reading to establish the temperature of the tank when the milk first enters.

“Plate heat exchange should take 20C off the heat of the milk, so it should be hitting the tank at about 17C or 18C, or possibly 6-7C if an ice builder is used. Any higher than that and the compressors have to take the extra cooling load and that costs money,’’ explained Mr Nicholas.