An energy audit determines current energy usage, which becomes your baseline, and includes recommended changes or actions to reduce energy use and costs. An energy professional will visit your farm and inspect the operation’s configuration, and processes and equipment that affect the farm’s energy efficiency. Typically a 12-month utility record is requested to allow baseline calculation.
Amanda Marney is an extension associate for the Missouri Agricultural Energy Savings Team – A Revolutionary Opportunity (MAESTRO) at the University of Missouri explained the audits in detail.
“This grant program has offered both Energy Management Plans (EMPs) and Technical Assistance (TAs). EMPs encompass all aspects of the farm while TAs focus on one single aspect, such as lighting,” Marney said. “At this point in our program we are only offering TA Reports for poultry producers, which can be very substantial in terms of energy savings. For example, switching from incandescent to LED lighting can save more than 70 percent in a farm’s lighting bill.”
With energy audits, recommendations are developed that will assist producer in increasing the facility’s energy efficiency – it evaluates various aspects of building construction, heating and cooling, ventilation, lighting and other electric uses.
Examples of energy efficient improvements in EMPs include replacing current lighting with energy efficient lighting, sealing air leaks, replacing non-insulated or torn curtains with insulated curtains, replacing current heaters with radiant heaters, and installing additional ceiling insulation.
“A producer should tighten their houses to reduce uncontrolled air leaks, which not only lower the gas bills, but also improves house environment,” said Yi Liang, assistant professor in the biological and agricultural engineering department at the University of Arkansas.
If a producer is interested in conducting an energy audit, they should contact an energy specialist. “Farm visits can be conducted any time, but preferably not when houses are full with market-size birds,” Liang said. “Low-cost farm energy audit is currently offered by the Arkansas U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), who use participating auditors to conduct farm energy audits.”
In addition, cost-share programs are available from USDA Rural Development or NRCS. Having an energy audit conducted is the first step in applying for the cost-share program/grant.
When producers have their energy audit results, they will be able to implement cost-savings measures such as replace incandescent lighting with LED lighting, or replace pancake heaters with radiant heaters.
Producers can have TAs conducted for free from the MAESTRO program, Marney said. “Expected gains are dependent upon which aspect of the farm is assessed.”
According to Marney, these audits should occur whenever the operation changes significantly, when the price of a particular fuel or energy source rises or falls significantly, or when technology advances.


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