With escalating energy prices and the associated carbon footprint from the use of fossil fuel-based energy sources, farmers should use their energy efficiently for dairy farm energy uses including heating, cooling and lighting.


Why should farmers produce and use electricity efficiently?

Energy costs contribute the bulk of fixed costs on dairy farms, therefore monitoring and reducing on-farm energy consumption is important. 

Farmers should use the most efficient technologies to generate energy to reduce emissions and energy costs.

In the following Teagasc researchers discuss different energy-efficient technologies which can be used on a dairy farm.

How do  I ensure efficient consumption of heat and electrical energy on the farm?

Energy consumption

The SEAI highlighted critical Energy saving tips on the farm

  • Monitor your energy consumption: Consider the use of smart energy meters.
  • Switch between suppliers to get better deals.
  • Insulate your water heater’s storage tank.
  • Use an efficient boiler for heating and hot water. 
  • Heating controls: Fit a timer on water heaters to exploit lower tariff electricity.
  • Lighting: off lights when not needed. Consider a movement sensor to activate lights
  • Ventilation: Make sure that fans and ducts are regularly maintained and kept clean to maximise efficiency.
  • Milk cooling: Use a plate cooler to pre-cool the milk.
  • Invest in a vacuum pump.
  • Invest in on-farm renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

How do I ensure the efficient production of renewable energy on the farm

  • Solar and wind energy generation differ across different times of the day and seasons.
  • Consider the use of energy storage batteries or the potential for electricity injection into the grid for excess energy produced.
  •  Up-to-date technology which is efficient in generating more energy at a lower cost should be used.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

When farmers use energy efficiently, they do not only reduce costs but the emissions associated with energy use. The example in the Table below shows the average estimated payback and emission reductions for different energy-efficient technologies

Farm energy efficient technology options

Farm TechnologyEnergy saving mechanism Payback CO2 Savings  per year% reduction
Plate cooling Can reduce cooling energy by 40%2 to 3 years2.5 tonnes
Variable Speed DrivesReduces pump speed when
demand for vacuum is low
and ramps up speed as
3to 7 years1.0 tonnes
Heat Recovery
Heat energy is removed from milk during cooling & transferred to water3 to 4 years1.6 tonnes
Solar PVsGenerates renewable electricity from the sun3 to 8 years4.6 tonnes
Adapted from (Upton, Teagasc 2023)


Research at Farm Zero C

At FZC an integrated renewable energy plan is being implemented with solar PVs, batteries and energy monitoring systems. 

Other research

The key findings from previous research include:

  • In Irish dairy farms, on average, electricity accounts for 60% of the direct energy use, and mainly results from milk cooling (31%), water heating (23%), and milking (20%)(Upton et al., 2013)  hence efficiency in energy use at the milking parlour is essential.
  • The results from a case study smart farm in Portugal showed that an 83.2% reduction in energy from the grid was achieved, with 5527 kg CO2 savings and 8 years of payback time from on-farm renewable energy and monitoring of the energy (Pereira et al., 2022).

Links to more research


Climate Action Plan 2021

AgClimatise Roadmap 2021 – 2021- The efficient generation and consumption of energy contribute to action 18 of the roadmap to climate-neutral agriculture.

Action 18: Generate at least a 20% reduction in agricultural energy use by 2030 across all farms. In addition, generate at least 20% deployment of renewable energy technologies focusing primarily on energy-intensive farming systems.”


Energy-efficient technologies which are SEAI approved  are listed on the SEAI Triple E register