Water Heating - The cost of water heating can be reduced in many ways.
A refrigeration heat recovery (RHR) unit will capture reject heat from the refrigeration system
to pre-heat the well water before it enters the water heater. Up to 50% of the energy required for water heating
can be recovered from the heat rejected by the refrigeration system. It is usually economical to install
a RHR unit when water is heated with an electric energy source. These units are available from all major brands of dairy equipment manufacturers.
Natural gas, LP gas or heating oil may be a more cost effective energy source for heating hot water because
they are usually a lower cost energy source. Often, the cost of replacing an electric water heater with a gas water
heater will payback in a few years.
Water conservation is low cost way to reduce water heating costs. This might include having
your dairy equipment dealer tune your pipeline washing system to reduce the amount of water needed to wash the
milking system. Often too much water is being used to wash milking systems because of poor adjustment. Refer to the UW Milking
Research and Instruction Lab website for more information (http://www.uwex.edu/uwmril/milking_machine/cleaning.htm)
Another way to reduce water heating costs is to use water directly from the refrigeration
heat recovery unit when warm will do and the precise temperature is not critical. That avoids heating the water up only to dilute it with cold
water for cleaning equipment
Purchasing a water heater? The energy efficiency of water heaters very greatly. An electric water heater converts electricity into
water at nearly 100% while gas and oil water heaters have a thermal efficiency of about 80% unless they are of the condensing type which has
thermal efficiencies in the 95% range. This is the percent of energy that is transferred to the water. Where water heaters differ widely is
the standby losses which is an indication of how well insulated the tank is. Electric water heaters are typically insulated the best with
standby losses of less than 1% per hour with some water heaters as low as 0.5% hourly losses. This would add up to between 12 and 24% daily
standby heat losses. A typical gas or oil water heater can have standby losses of 2.5% per hour which equates to a daily loss of 60%. When
shopping for a new water heater, the more insulation the better. Ratings for water heaters are available at the Gas Appliance Manufacturers
Association (GAMA) website (http://www.gamanet.org) under the heading of "Product Certification" and sub-heading of "Product Directories".
Refer to UW Extension bulletin A3784-2: "Energy Conservation in Agriculture: Water Heating on Dairy Farms".
If you have information you think would be useful to this site please contact Scott Sanford, Senior Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin, firstname.lastname@example.org.