Dairy Operation Case Study

August 26, 2018

Water heating for dairy farms

Dairy farms use plenty of hot water to wash milking lines and milk storage tanks. The larger the operation, the more hot water is needed. Up to 40% of the energy used in dairy barns goes into heating water, so any measure that reduces water heating requirements has a direct impact on the bottom line.

  • Solar water heating systems offer several benefits and advantages to dairy farming operations:
  • A dairy farmer can expect a solar water heating system to decrease water heating bills by 60% annually.
  • As a renewable energy project, a solar water heating system is eligible for a 50% Capital Cost Allowance. This means that nearly two thirds of the system cost can be written off as a business expense in the first two years, generating substantial tax savings.
  • Electricity costs are expected to rise by 5% per year, meaning that the amount of savings from solar hot water actually grows over time.
  • Solar water heating can augment energy savings for farms that have milk chilling heat recovery units. Solar water water heating has a compelling business case for farms that use plate coolers, as there is significantly less heat available to be recovered.
  • Heat recovery systems are an integral part of the milk chilling process. When these units fail, there is a direct impact on the farmer's ability to cool the milk and keep it cool. Solar water heating is completely independent of milk chilling.

Our installers make sure your solar system works together with your existing hot water system, ensuring you'll have hot water even on cloudy days. 

Solar thermal water heating at Mapleton's Organic Dairy


Martin and Ineke of Mapleton's Organic Dairy use a large amount of hot water to clean the pipes in the milk house twice a day after milking. This occurs during peak energy demand time, meaning they were paying premium prices to heat their water. 

For them a solar water heating system not only made economic sense, but was also in line with their environmental values. Within a few weeks their solar water heating system was up and running and they were making great savings on their energy bills.

Please  to discuss an opportunity for solar water heating on your farm further. 

 Photo: A five-panel solar thermal water heating system at Mapleton's Organic Dairy, 2010.)


"It makes economic sense when you do all the calculations of money you're going to save and the high return on investment. I think it makes a lot of sense both financially and environmentally for people to do. These things all together convinced us it was the right thing to do."

- Martin de Groot, Mapleton's Organic Dairy, 2011

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