I am always interested in understanding where our customers are coming from. Two things I hear a lot are “skilled workers shortage” and needing to “produce more with less money”. Today’s tips are for helping you “do more with less”. No matter what your role at the plant, you are expected to look for ways to squeeze more out of poor old Abe. One way most plants can save is by reducing their energy costs:
- Use variable-speed drives on motors serving variable loads. (for more on this see this previous post on variable speed drives) When the motor is under a lighter load, they slow the motor down to reduce power consumption.
- Install occupancy sensors. These work by turning lights on when people enter private offices, restrooms, or other infrequently used spaces. (These gizmos freaked me out the first time I saw them in the local Wal-Mart – the whole row of freezers lit up when I walked down the aisle…thought I was on T.V. or something!)
- Install a setback thermometer in smaller buildings. These can really save.
- Install your own substation. Better rates are often available to large consumers of electric power.
- Outsource heating/cooling and generation operations. This reduces energy bills as well as capital and personnel costs. Your energy company can provide advice about this.
- Manage loads. If your plant operates 24/7 shift loads to off-peak hours wherever possible and stagger the start-up of major electrical loads. Programmable sequence controllers make this doable. Larger plants can consider self-generation of distributed generation.
- Downsize mechanical equipment. Many older plants have oversized HVAC blowers, pumps and chillers which waste capital, space and energy. Do a load analysis to see if downsizing mechanical equipment will work for you.
- Establish an “energy cop” and respond. This means regularly reviewing the energy saving performance of your energy and HVAC providers and ask for competitive proposals. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.
- Perform an energy audit. A true energy audit by a specialist will pinpoint savings that might be missed otherwise. This could be money well spent.
- Modernize the lighting. Lighting systems over 10 years old should likely be replaced. Payback on this will be pretty quick especially if there are local incentive programs. More efficient lighting uses less power and runs cooler which reduces HVAC costs. Consider upgrading all your lighting including signage such as emergency exit signs.
If you give it some thought, you can probably come up with 10 more ideas to save on energy for your plant. I got these ideas from an article on one of my favorite websites, www.PlantServices.com. Be a hero and save your plant some money. There might be great ways to invest that saved money like advanced training, or new equipment, or a trip to Fiji (just kidding!)