Facility Dude

Ten Tips To Reduce Energy Consumption & Save Money

By Kelley Crawford
Feb 03, 2011

Energy Management

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LED Lightbulb

Figuring out some bright ideas to help save your organization money is a daunting task in a world filled with costly equipment, huge overhead and shrinking staffs. However, there is more than one way to cut back and see some budget savings.

Here are a few tips to consider when looking for ways to reduce your energy consumption and save your organization money.

1. Lighting modernization  One LED light bulb = 9 Regular

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 also save money and decrease unnecessary energy use in spaces that aren’t occupied after a certain time or need less lighting.

Retrofitting lighting is also an efficient way to get your facility on the track to minimizing energy use. It involves replacing components in the fixture or, in some cases, the complete fixture is replaced to make it more energy efficient.

2. Variable frequency drives (VFD)

A VFD is a system for controlling the speed of an electric motor by controlling the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the motor. These drives have the option to vary the speed of the fans based on the load being used. Variable-frequency drives should be used with larger motors and fans in the facility to maximize energy efficiency.

For example, in ventilation systems for large buildings, variable-frequency motors on fans save energy by allowing the volume of air moved to match the system demand.

3. Chiller plant efficiency

It is estimated that chillers consume 20 percent of the total electrical energy generated in North America, making it very important to reduce consumption in this area. 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, causing excess energy and dollars to be wasted.

Boiler

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. Often times 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 percent 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.

BAS System

6. Building automation system (BAS)

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 and provides email and/or text notifications to building engineering staff. The BAS functionality reduces building energy and maintenance costs when compared to a non-controlled building. Although some systems are initially expensive, 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 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, then 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 will be used to get temperatures lower than would normally be necessary. Replacing damaged pipes and repairing insulation immediately will help prevent unnecessary energy use.

9. Utility bill reconciliation

A utility company often charges according to a power factor. The lower the power factor, the more inefficient your electrical system is in using the power received from the utility company. If your facility has a low power factor, then you will be penalized with added charges.

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.

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10. FACILITYDUDE!!!

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.  Call FacilityDude today to learn more about how our web-based facility management tools can help your organization save money, increase efficiency and improve services.

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