Improving the energy efficiency of your farm can help you save money while at the same time minimizing your energy usage. This information on livestock buildings is only one aspect of improving efficiency. For additional tips and information on other related topics, check out the links to other articles in this series that are included below this article.
Energy-Saving Tips For Livestock Buildings
Proper ventilation is essential for buildings that are used to house livestock according to Steelbuildinguk.com who provide steel farm agricultural buildings for sale in the UK. Not only does ventilation help remove excess moisture but it also keeps too much heat from building up and increases the air quality inside the structure. Ventilation requirements vary based on a number of factors including the level of moisture, the indoor and outdoor temperature, any offensive odors, and the amount of heat that is generated by the equipment and the livestock.
One way to lower the amount of energy used for ventilation is by using the minimum number of fans required for space. Limiting the amount of time those fans run also is beneficial. As an example, ventilation requirements usually decrease when it is cold outside in the winter. In the summer, on the other hand, the increase in temperature typically results in a corresponding increase in the need for ventilation. Keep in mind that the efficiency of any fans that are operating in the space will decrease if they are obstructed by nearby objects.
Fortunately, recent technological developments have resulted in highly efficient equipment for livestock structures. You can now find efficient equipment for everything from heating the space to milking cattle.
What to ask when evaluating your building:
- Do the housings, motors, or fan blades require cleaning?
- Is it possible to vent the space naturally instead of relying on fans?
- Are the fans you are currently using properly sized for the amount of livestock in the structure?
- Could adding the ability to control the system automatically make it more efficient?
- Could you benefit from installing different ventilation and heating systems in different zones?
- Is your location well suited to an air-to-air heat exchanger?
- Do you need to further insulate or ventilate the space to minimize issues with condensation?
- Based on the number of animals in the space and the size of the structure, is your heating system the right size?
- Are the thermostats properly calibrated and placed in an area where their readings won’t be affected by exposure to sunlight or drafts?
- Would invest in more modern technology result in better efficiency for your livestock buildings?
Action Steps To Improve Efficiency In Livestock Buildings
When dirt, hair, and other contaminants accumulate on fan blades, their efficiency is decreased. Cleaning them can improve their ability to circulate air. Similarly, any shutters or louvers on the building that are used for ventilation should be kept clean. If they can’t be fully opened or if they are too dirty, airflow in the building can be reduced by as much as 40%.
To prevent problems, stick to a regular cleaning schedule and make sure that they are properly lubricated. Dry lubricants such as graphite are the best choice since they won’t attract additional dirt.
Fan belts should also be regularly inspected to make sure that they are in good condition and that the tension is set correctly. If they are too loose, airflow inside the building can be cut by up to 30%. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of manually tightening the belts, consider investing in self-tensioning devices for your fans.
Clean any inlets that are used for ventilation at least once a year and make sure that they are operating correctly.
One effective way to ventilate a space is through the use of natural ventilation. By installing special passages that accommodate airflow, dirty air can be naturally replaced by clean air. The air movement is generated naturally as a result of differences in air pressure inside and outside the building.
Opting for natural ventilation whenever appropriate is a great way to cut your energy demands. This type of ventilation is commonly seen in buildings that have sidewalls made out of curtains and peak roofs that are open. Dairy free-stall barns are a good example. Closing the curtains can provide protection against the weather.
Any fans that are installed need to be appropriately sized for space. If the fans are too large, they will use more air than necessary and can make the building colder during the winter.
If they are too small, they won’t be able to handle the amount of ventilation required for space. The inlets should be large enough to meet the capacity of the fans. Otherwise, the fans will consume more energy than they need to.
One way to minimize wasted energy while ensuring that the climate is evenly controlled is by using a ventilation system that is controlled automatically. Systems with variable speed controls can automatically adjust the speed of a fan depending on the temperature inside the building.
Choosing energy-efficient fans is another excellent way to save. The efficiency of a fan is listed as cubic feet per minute per Watt (cfm/Watt). This figure shows how much air the fan is capable of using when it consumes a specific amount of energy at a certain static pressure. The difference in efficiency between fans can be quite significant. In fact, you could cut your ventilation costs in half by choosing a high-efficiency fan.
Test results for specific agricultural ventilation fans can be accessed on the website of BESS Lab at the University of Illinois. Fans greater than 36 inches in diameter should have a minimum efficiency of 20 cfm/Watt when operated at a static pressure of 0.05 inches of water. Higher cfm/Watt values translate into greater efficiency.
Opting for a fan with a discharge cone or diffuser could result in an increase in efficiency of anywhere from about 12 to 26%.
Another easy way to improve efficiency is by choosing a fan that has a larger diameter. Try combining a large fan with a temperature sensor and a variable speed controller. This will allow you to adjust the speed of the fan automatically at different temperatures, helping to minimize wasted energy while still safely controlling the temperature inside the space. This method provides similar results to using a number of small fans in conjunction with one another.
When the temperature goes up, the speed of the fan also increases. You can calculate how much energy is being saved by cubing the percentage of the full speed of the fan. As an example, if a fan is operating at half of its full speed, it will move half of the amount of air that it would at full speed. Based on the calculation, however, it will only use approximately 15% of the energy that it would need to run at full speed.
Setting up different climate control zones can also result in dramatic energy savings. Controlling the temperature and ventilation in each part of the building individually helps minimize wasted energy.
Adding extra insulation to buildings where animals are housed can not only make it easier to control the temperature inside the building but can also minimize problems with condensation. When installing insulation, take steps to keep rodents, birds, or insects from causing damage.
Unless the temperatures outside are quite extreme, calves in the dairy and beef industries might not need extra heat. If they do, consider setting up a small area with radiant heat specifically for this use.
Chicks and piglets, on the other hand, require precisely controlled environmental conditions. Because of that, they usually are housed in special buildings designed specifically for their needs. If necessary, you can also add additional heat. As always, safety is essential. Here are some energy-efficient ideas that you may want to try:
For swine, try replacing heat lamps with heated creep pads. Not only do these pads provide more even heat distribution but they also are more energy-efficient.
To create an environment that is well-suited for piglets, consider using hovers. These areas are compact and enclosed, making it easier to control drafts and to keep the temperature inside the space warm enough without having to heat the whole building.
For larger spaces, try using radiant heat. Instead of increasing the ambient air temperature, these heaters provide a warming effect that is similar to sitting in the sun on a cold day. By helping the animals feel warmer, the heating requirements inside the building can be reduced.
Another option is to look into hydronic floor heating. Because the animals are all at floor level, it makes sense to only heat that area rather than heating all of the air inside the building.
Schedule regular service visits for furnaces and boilers. At least once a year, they should be inspected to make sure they are clean and operating at maximum efficiency. If you have old, outdated heating equipment, consider upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient equipment. This can dramatically improve efficiency, resulting in significant savings.
Any incandescent light bulbs should be replaced with linear fluorescent fixtures or with CFL bulbs. Mercury vapor lamps, on the other hand, should be swapped out for pulse start metal halide lamps or high-pressure sodium lamps.
One sure way to ensure that all the above requirements for energy-efficient livestock are met is through using high-quality structures. It all boils down to the material, design, and skill in building the structure for your animals. You can visit www.murraysteelbuildings.com to look at some of the best agricultural steel buildings that will ensure you have energy-efficient buildings.