Focus on Energy: Energy Efficiency Boosts Bottom Line for Philip Hofman Farm

Media Contacts:
Julie Semancik/Tim WirtzHoffman York
414-225-9568 / 414-225-9522
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– Focus on Energy Program Reduces Energy Costs with Energy Saving Measures-

WAUPUN, Wis. (August 3, 2004) – You don’t need to remind Philip Hofman that life as a farmer hasn’t gotten any easier throughout the years. Operating his family-owned farm in Waupun, Wis., has taught him that you must do everything you can to remain viable in his rapidly changing industry. Finding cost-effective solutions to the countless challenges facing this 330-head dairy farm has made him a throwback of sorts in this era of intense agricultural “corporatization.” Fortunately, help in one area arrived from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program.

Philip Hofman Farm implemented several steps that resulted in energy savings of over $9,775 including 117,384 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity – enough to power 11 average Wisconsin homes – and 1,287 therms of natural gas.

Specifically, Hofman replaced his farm’s old electric water heater with a new energy-efficient gas water heater. He also added a variable speed drive (VSD) vacuum pump for his milking operations, and began recovering heat from a compressor used to cool his cows’ milk. These changes not only make the farm more cost-effective to operate, but also make it a model of energy efficiency.

Stepping in to Help
Philip Hofman purchased his 400-acre farm from his parents in 1974. Since that time, he has always understood that improving energy efficiency can impact a business in many positive ways. When Hofman was approached by Fred Daniels, an energy advisor for Focus on Energy, he liked what he heard. Daniels and a representative from Tri County Dairy Supply in

Watertown, Wis., came out to see Hofman to conduct an assessment and make some recommendations, which included advice on replacing his old water heater, for potential savings.

“They came to talk with me during a time when milk prices were low,” said Hofman. “They outlined for me some measures that would save my operation money while also improving our product.”

Unfortunately, due to the low milk prices Hofman had little in the way of funds to finance any changes. Focus on Energy and his local utility, Alliant Energy, stepped in to provide much needed help. The total cost for the implemented changes was $15,100, which was offset by a $4,000 grant from Focus on Energy and financing by Alliant Energy.

Improving Energy Efficiency and Milk Quality

The new water heater, VSD vacuum pump, and compressor heat recovery have proved their worth and helped Hofman capitalize on more savings since the project was completed in September of 2003.

The new natural gas water heater is used to wash all of Hofman’s farm equipment. The 80-gallon power-vent water heater is put to heavy use and has reduced electricity consumption by 92,784 kWh – a savings of $2,949.

With the addition of the VSD vacuum pump, Hofman has not only seen a reduction in electricity consumption, but an improvement in overall milk quality as well. The VSD vacuum pump reduced electricity use by 24,600 kWh and has also reduced the somatic cell count, which is commonly used as a measure of milk quality, in his milk production by 100.

“My old vacuum pump was running full power all the time,” Hofman said. “The variable speed pump runs according to demand. And the consistency of the vacuum it creates has reduced the somatic cell count in my milk significantly. It alone has provided an extra 10 cents in my milk prices.”

By maximizing heat recovery from the compressor used to cool milk, Hofman has reduced natural gas usage by 1,287 therms, equaling $2,949 in cost savings. The freon from the coolers is run through a line to a tank where a coil pre-heats water before it goes into the water heater. This helps reduce the amount of natural gas the water heater must use.

Hofman has reaped substantial benefits from his decision to implement the suggestions from Focus on Energy – benefits that have made short-term sense and will have long-term effects on his business. Hofman is considering even more energy savings steps in the near
future. He sees his relationship with Focus on Energy as one that made sense for him, and can help any business in need of improvement.

“Every operation in any industry can look and find areas where they can improve what they are doing and how they are doing it,” Hofman said. “Focus on Energy stepped forward and showed me how they could help my business. They helped me with funding the project. With everything they’ve done for me, they’ve really shown their worth.”

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is a public-private partnership offering energy information and services to energy utility customers throughout Wisconsin. The goals of this program are to encourage energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, enhance the environment and ensure the future supply of energy for Wisconsin. Since July 2001, the program has helped Wisconsin’s businesses and residents reduce their annual energy consumption by more than 304.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and more than 13.7 million therms of natural gas. For more information, call 800-762-7077 or visit