Saving energy and reducing facility operating costs can seem
like overwhelming tasks. However, dividing the project into smaller, more
achievable steps can make the task less intimidating and easier to manage. In
addition, a phased plan can make the evaluation both more timely and effective.
STEP 1: CONDUCT AN ENERGY AUDIT
In order to decide where you should focus your efforts,
start with an energy audit. This process can identify areas of waste and
highlight potential improvements that offer the quickest ROI. Begin by
compiling the last 12 months of utility bills. This will tell you when and
where you’re consuming the most energy. To identify any causes of unusual
energy usage, compare this information to internal documentation from your
accounting and production facilities. Next, analyze the energy requirements and
efficiency ratings of all major electrical systems in your building. Once this
information has been compiled in a central location, you can begin the
site is a great resource for developing a plan for your energy audit and
assessing what types of results you’d like to achieve.
STEP 2: REVIEW AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Begin your review by consulting a reputable engineering firm
for potential solutions to the areas you’ve identified. Analyze the available
solutions on a variety of criteria including upfront expenditure, ROI,
available third party incentives (i.e. tax credits, rebates, etc.) and ease of
accomplishment. Select the improvements that meet your energy-saving goals
while staying within your budget and create an action plan that sets a timeline
for accomplishment. With this plan in-hand, it’s time to start making
improvements to the areas you’ve identified.
For an extensive ROI comparison among a selection of common
of improvements, click
here. This site gives measurements of ROI across various improvements,
providing an equal basis for measuring potential savings when making
STEP 3: INTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS
In this step, get the ball rolling by focusing on the
interior of your building. Key areas to consider are the interior lighting,
heating and cooling systems and the windows.
Lighting Improvements - While Compact
Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) bulbs cost more upfront, they use up to 75% less
energy and last up to 5 years longer, and with a
small investment of $60, a 133% return on your investment is often
achievable in just 1 year.
Films – Technologies like the low-e coating found in the EnerLogic™ series
of Vista Window Films can increase the insulating
power of windows up to 92%. Plus, they offer year-round benefits that
compare favorably to other popular energy-saving measures both in terms of
energy efficiency, cost savings and ROI.
Thermostats - Replacing traditional thermostats with programmable
thermostats lowers energy costs through reduced use of HVAC system. In
addition, it also increases longevity of the HVAC equipment due to the
decreased run time.
STEP 4: EXTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS
It’s time to move outside. Key
areas to consider are weatherization, roofing choices and utilizing landscaping
for energy saving purposes.
Insulation/Weatherization – By
upgrading insulation and installing weatherstripping, you can lower your energy
costs by reducing the amount of radiant heat that enters your building during
the summer and leaves your building during the winter. Commercial properties can
often enjoy a 55% ROI in just one year. This article is
a great source for identifying where weatherstripping should be applied in
order to increase savings.
Saving Roofing Materials – White rooftops reflect about 84% of sunlight,
while black rooftops absorb nearly 95% of the sunlight that hits it,
(reflecting only 5% of it). By simply painting roofing surfaces white, it has
been estimated that some buildings with large roof areas can save around 10 to 20 percent on
Overhangs – These
structures can be used in conjunction with window films to potentially
increase energy savings and reduce solar absorption. Overhangs should be constructed in accordance with where the
sun’s horizon is in your area.
These installations typically start
at $1,400 and can often produce an ROI of 12.5% per year which is why we
recommend combining these installations with window film to help improve the
total payback time.
STEP 5: OPERATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
Now that you’ve made internal and external energy saving
improvements, use this step to look at potential operational improvements.
Management Systems – This combination of building management systems and
advanced software solutions work together to monitor and adjust heating and
cooling based on environmental conditions. It also helps to ensure optimal
energy usage, resulting in greater efficiency and lower utility costs. In
recent years, several automated programs have been developed that enable
facilities managers to review a “dashboard” to track energy consumption. This
is a great article that explains the different variables to consider when
selecting a system.
Controls - Similar to energy management systems, lighting controls use
technologies like occupancy sensors and photosensors to help optimize lighting
based on actual usage and environmental conditions. Specific areas to consider
when looking at lighting improvements include:
of LED lighting, with
a typical ROI of 45.5%
of skylights, with
a typical ROI of 43%
STEP 6: PROGRAM EVALUATION
With the completion of your improvements, it’s now time to
review the energy savings they have generated. Compare your utility bills
against the same period from the previous year. It’s important to remember that
an energy savings plan is a fluid program and you can continue to achieve
savings throughout the year by carefully monitoring utility bills and making
adjustments as needed.
In addition to the programmable thermostats mentioned in the post there are opportunities within filtration selections to reduce HVAC system power use. New filtration technologies (with lower initial presure drops) can utilize VFDs in newer mechanical systems to recude energy use. In most cases there are no additional costs within the filtration budget to bring these energy savings to you.
If you would like to run an energy use comparison on your current filtration I would be glad to share a calculation spread sheet with you.
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