In this same vein, Heber said producers should assess whether the minimum winter airflow rate in the barn is much greater than the recommended minimum ventilation rate and can be safely decreased. The minimum ventilation rate refers to the base rate at which the system adequately controls humidity and ammonia at safe levels.
"Over-ventilating the building in cold weather will increase propane use to unnecessary levels," he said. "Over-ventilating by 10% can increase annual LP consumption by 27%, according to research at Iowa State University."
Consider an energy audit
Other ways for producers to use propane more efficiently involve building maintenance. Ventilation air inlets need to be properly maintained, and air leaks should be eliminated.
Producers can assess the efficiency of their facilities by having an on-farm energy audit. During an energy audit, professionals come out to the farm and look at where facility improvements could be made. They outline savings-to-investment ratios for implementing those improvements, whether that's as simple as caulking areas of air leaks or as investment-heavy as adding heat exchangers.
Purdue Extension energy specialist Chad Martin, for example, conducts on-farm energy audits in Indiana.
Martin said farmers could apply for grants to offset the costs of the audits and farm energy efficiency improvements through the USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers Environmental Quality Incentives programs, and many utility companies also offer rebate incentives, Martin says.