10 Tips to Reduce Energy Consumption and Save Money
Looking at bright ideas to save money is a daunting task if your organization is filled with costly equipment, huge overhead and insufficient staff levels.
There is no singular solution, yet you can apply multiple methods to reduce consumption and increase budget savings.
1. Lighting modernization
Replacing older bulbs with newer, more energy-efficient bulbs is an inexpensive way to begin to save energy. Implementing lighting controls, sensors and dimmers in certain environments can save money and decrease unnecessary energy use. Review what spaces are unoccupied after a certain time or require less lighting to apply controls and perhaps use LEDs to maintain a minimal requirement of lighting until a timer or sensor is triggered.
Lighting retrofits are also an efficient way to get your facility on track to minimize energy use. This involves replacing components (e.g., ballast) in the fixture or, in some cases, the entire fixture to make it more efficient.
2. Variable frequency drives (VFD)
A VFD is a system for controlling the speed of an electric motor by governing the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the motor. These drives have the option to vary the speed of the fans based upon the load being used. VFDs should be used with larger motors and fans in the facility to maximize energy efficiency.
Example: in ventilation systems for large buildings, variable-frequency motors on fans save energy by allowing the volume of air moved to match the demand for the system.
3. Chiller plant efficiency
One of the most important assets to consider for consumption reduction. It is estimated that chillers consume 20 percent of the total electrical energy generated in North America. Water-cooled chillers, which use water to remove the heat, are twice as energy-efficient as air-cooled chillers, which use the flow of outside air to remove heat from the chiller.
Newer chillers often have variable frequency drives (mentioned above). In older systems, cooling tower fans run continuously at full speed, resulting in excess energy usage and waste in dollars.
4. Boiler plant efficiency
Similar to chillers, older boilers for heating systems are constantly going at full speed. There are two energy saving options with boilers – retrofitting or replacing. While a large cost upfront, replacing boilers with new efficient technologies will save money in the long run. Newer boilers have the ability to change capacity when the full heat is not needed. Retrofitting boilers with new burners and controls may have similar savings as replacement boilers, but at a lower investment cost.
5. Steam trap maintenance and replacement
A steam trap regulates how much heat is allowed through a terminal device (radiator, patient room fan coil units, etc.). Steam traps usually fail because certain parts are not working the way they are supposed to work. Oftentimes, they end up in a fully open position, allowing too much heat to get through, resulting in both wasted energy and dollars.
There could be hundreds, or even thousands, of steam traps in a large facility. Every year, 20% of the steam traps should be replaced and all should be checked for maintenance issues. A good way to manage this process is to develop a five-year maintenance plan.
6. Building automation system (BAS)
A BAS focuses upon reducing building energy usage and maintenance costs through automated processes and monitoring vs. a manually-controlled building. A BAS’ core functionality keeps the building climate within a specified range, provides lighting based on an occupancy schedule, and monitors system performance and device failures, distributing email and/or text notifications to building engineering staff. Although some systems are higher investments, over time these devices will save money by efficiently controlling temperatures and energy levels.
7. Repairing air leaks in air handlers
Regularly checking for leaks in air handlers will prevent using excess energy and will also save money from not having to do extensive repairs. One easy way to see if you have leaks from ducts or air handling units is to feel the temperature in your mechanical room in the hot summer months. If your mechanical room feels comfortable, or even a little cold, during the warm months, there is most likely a leak.
8. Replacement of damaged pipes and duct insulation
Making sure insulation leaks are repaired is very important to keep heating and air conditioning from being wasted. If leaks occur, more heat is needed to get temperatures up, and more cooling is used to lower temperatures than normally necessary. Replacing damaged pipes and repairing insulation immediately helps prevent unnecessary energy use.
9. Utility bill reconciliation
A utility company often charges according to a power factor, a ratio of how power received from the utility company is being used. The lower the power factor, the more inefficient your electrical system is. Industrial, commercial or other large entities that have a low power factor are often penalized with added charges by the power company.
To avoid these extra charges, you can use power factor correction capacitors to increase the power factor of your system. The installation of power factor capacitors on the user's electrical distribution system eliminates the necessity of paying penalties to the utility company for poor power factor.
With the cost of facility upkeep comprising such a large portion of a company's budget, it is vital that operational efficiencies are maximized. To achieve such goals, organizations must find effective ways to streamline their maintenance, inventory and utility functions.
We can help you do just that!