Five ideas to start on the path to energy efficiency
Although most households use electricity on an ongoing basis, the industrial sector consumes the majority of the electricity used in the United States. Any industrial facility has the potential for using massive amounts of energy. Those that use the most tend to be industries such as glass, mining, petroleum refinement, metal casting, forest products, chemicals, aluminum and steel.
The process begins with energy coming from an outside resource. Energy produced is from off-site power plants, such as those that use:
- Natural gas
- Other types of fuel.
That energy is then processed and flows through the utility system to the facilities. Then it is used to manufacture the items that consumers use on an ongoing basis.
Keeping energy costs low is of prime importance for many facilities. It is one way that profitability can be increased in many cases without decreasing productivity. Yet energy is lost at manufacturing facilities through inefficient equipment, particularly equipment that is not well maintained.
Areas to improve energy efficiency
If the goal is to save money on energy at an industrial facility, taking proper care of the equipment is the first place to start. A few areas to check are as follows:
- Transformers: older, dry transformers have significantly lower energy efficiency than more modern, high-efficiency transformers. If older transformers are being used, it may be possible to double energy efficiency by replacing them. This can significantly lower your operating costs.
- Lighting: up to 60% of the power used at a large-scale industrial facility may be used in lighting. Upgrading the lighting and replacing older lights can help to reduce the energy consumption at most facilities significantly.
- iPhantom loads: many pieces of electrical equipment, particularly office equipment, use energy 24 hours a day even when they are not actively being used. Determine if equipment uses energy in such a way and turn it off when it is not in use. This is a big step that can be taken to save money on energy costs.
- Electrical motors: older motors tend to be far less energy-efficient than newer motors that have higher efficiency ratings. Replacing an older motor may result in an initial upfront expense, but it will not take long for the energy savings to catch up with that initial cost.
- Variable frequency drives (VFDs): another way to save money on electric motors is through the installation of VFDs. VFDs can match the energy output to the necessary load rather than having the motor run at full-bore continuously. This also saves money by reducing engine wear.
Taking a closer look at the electrical systems at a place of business can illuminate a surprising number of ways to reduce energy consumption. This can make a significant difference in how much money a business spends on energy, as well as reduce its carbon footprint.