Energy opportunities

Top 5 quick energy opportunities

“Getting solar and closing our water systems was going to pay for itself in less than two years. I want to hand the farm on to the next generation in the best shape for them to be successful.” 
- Angie, Southland farmer

Taking action



  • Tane chose LED lighting simply for better light.

  • Changing the most used lights, and adding a switch to turn these on/off, boosts savings.


  • For Angie, timers were a simple step to bill savings (and carbon cuts) for hot water cylinders, ice banks and effluent pumps. The electrician helped calculate loads, run times and settings, and installed timers for best use of solar PV.


  • Pete gets multiple benefits with efficient pumping with variable speed drives
    (VSDs) and digital pump controllers (e.g. F60s) including:
    • lower water cost
    • reduced waste water
    • better plant life/reduced risk
    • energy savings
    • leak/burnout detection.

Solar panels

  • Debbie cut her exposure to energy price rises and prepared for resilience by adding solar panels on the farm. She ensured proper design for actual daytime loads that helped the payback.

  • Timers on hot water cylinders, ice banks and effluent pumps means that when we use power better matches solar PV.

  • Doing ground works themselves helped cut costs - but installers were happy to do everything too.


Insulate VATs
• Fonterra can advise you on your VAT type/ size

Wrap hot water cylinder, lag pipes and fix leaks
• For cylinder wraps call your plumber (can also self wrap)
• Pipe lagging must suit temperature and pipe diameter

Install variable speed drives and pump controllers (e.g.F60s)
• Call your pump supplier
• Check all pumps (see our advice)

Install LED lighting
• Call your electrician

Install timers
• Call your electrician

Install solar panels (PV)
• User timers/smarts
• PV has pay-as-you-generate (Power Purchase Agreement or PPA) and other finance options
• See the solar panels guide for more on what to ask, look for and consider

Financial insights are illustrative based on generic information. Specific sizing, costing and benefit assessments are recommended. Version 14/1/24

Are these top energy saving investments in your Farm Plan?

"We wanted a farm that was labour efficient. So, we needed to invest in good automation and monitoring. As an off shoot we also got energy efficiency. Our rule was payback within half the warrantied life” - Pete, Southland farmer

Taking action


Plan now for renewals

Estimate renewal date

Update your Farm Plan

Talk to supplier(s)
well in advance

Hot water heat pump to replace cylinder
• On cylinder renewal
• Heat pump most beneficial for new shed

Install heat recovery
• On chiller renewal

Install snap chiller
• On chiller renewal
• Check FarmSource partners
• Coolsense offer Pay As You Save and reduced greenhouse gas from refrigerants

Yard Washdown
• Water use, water cycle, scraping gates
• Timing depends on opportunity/ related investment

Precision irrigation
• If you use significant irrigation and assessing for other reasons, consider energy savings

Hot water heat pump

Hot water heat pumps are energy efficient so ideal for Sue's new shed. More work e.g. re-piping is needed for replacements of existing cylinders.

Heat Recovery

For Ray, assessing the best heat recovery option well ahead of chiller replacement not only saves on hot water, but gets it quicker – reducing risk.

Snap Chilling

For Bob, choosing a snap chiller was about milk quality. But for the same or little extra money, energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases boosted the benefits. Adding the scraping gate has helped

Yard Washdown

Adding the precision scraping gate Chris cutting effluent and water use, with the bonus of energy savings on reduced pumping.

Precision Irrigation

Smartly irrigating, for Mark, drives water use and stock health, but planning for energy efficiency adds to the return.

Financials are illustrative based on generic information. Specific sizing, costing and benefit assessments are recommended. Version 14/1/24

Top energy saving operational choices

Changing what the team does, or checking what service technicians cover, can find immediate savings for low or no cost Use the check lists below to confirm what the team is doing and identify items for action.

Dairy shed

Plant renewal plans

  • Plan in place for what to buy when you have plant failure

  • Energy efficiency included as part of that decision.

Plant service schedules

  • Your refrigerant plant is checked annually

  • Your milk plant is checked annually, e.g. vacuum regulation, airflow, leaks, drive belt

  • Water leaks are spotted quickly (e.g. excess pumping)

Set point temperatures

  • Your hot water cylinder temperature is checked and optimum (55C at end of wash)

  • You have considered a hot water wash every second day (efficient plant set ups)

  • Regular temperature check of your milk cooler water and milk outlets

Switch off unused plant

  • Unused hot water cylinders

  • Lights off after milking

  • Your pumps

Diesel and time savings

Feeding practices

  • Feed stored in more than one location to save time and reduce tractor miles

Frequency, choice and care of vehicle

  • Plan for multi-purpose trips to save time and fuel

  • Use the smallest appropriate vehicle for the job at hand (tractor size, ute, quad, motor bike)

  • Check tractor servicing, tyre pressures and choose settings for the job/ load (check visor/ manual quick guide)

  • Electric options include ubco or e-bike, Tuatara electric quad, electric ute and tractor (light duties only, high cost) assessed

Using contractors

  • Using contractors more often as they tend to have right sized and most modern vehicles, reducing fuel and carbon

Herd wearables

  • Assess energy efficiency gains when assessing wearables

  • If using them, reducing the frequency of trips (miles) as wearables allow.