6 Ways Manufacturers Can Reduce Industrial Energy Costs
How much of the energy you pay for each month is actually used to power your plant? It could be less than half, with the rest escaping through leaky air compressors, inefficient equipment and other energy hogs.
Our country wastes more energy than any other nation, including China. In 2013, the United States had an energy efficiency of just 42 percent, meaning 58 percent of all the energy we produce goes to waste.
The industrial sector, which includes manufacturing, agriculture, construction and mining, accounts for nearly one third of all U.S. energy usage. Manufacturing facilities alone are responsible for spending $200 billion every year to power facilities and waste nearly 30 percent of that energy. This all adds up to a lot of unnecessary energy costs.
To make your manufacturing facility more energy efficient and less expensive to run, here are six ways to reduce industrial energy costs on your production floor.
1. Develop an Energy Management Team
One of the primary reasons energy and cost-saving initiatives fail is because it’s unclear whose responsibility it is to manage the undertaking. Develop an energy management team by pulling a representative from each department. Bring in those who already have an incentive to keep costs low, or build in a bonus that can be tied to the amount of energy the team saves. Together, they can work to monitor energy usage throughout the facility and implement ways to reduce waste.
2. Conduct an Energy Audit
Energy audits can be performed in-house using an energy audit guidebook and assistance from facility experts. However, we recommend facilities seek professional help from an energy specialist. A useful energy audit will quantify how much energy each department is consuming and will help identify peak consumption times throughout the year. It should also offer recommendations on which energy efficiency upgrades will bring the best return on investment.
3. Strategically Schedule Machinery Use
Using the intelligence collected from your facility energy audit, consider which machinery requires the most energy to run. If possible, schedule operation of these machines outside of peak hours. Peak hours can constitute up to 30 percent of a manufacturing facilities monthly utility bill.
4. Schedule Shut-Downs and Start-Ups
Scheduled production floor shut downs where all machinery is powered off for a length of time (during the weekend or off-shift periods) can substantially lower industrial energy cost. To know when to schedule these shut downs, you’ll need visibility into peak operational hours. Likewise, powering up all machinery at once can create a large spike in your facilities energy demand. Production floors should stagger equipment start-up to reduce this spike.
5. Optimize Air Compressors
Industrial air compressors are to blame for huge amounts of energy consumption and waste. Some are poorly designed, while others are improperly maintained. Altogether, air compressors account for up to $3.2 billion in wasted energy costs annually in the U.S.
In fact, just one leak can cost your business $500 or more per year. If you have multiple leaks, your air compressors are practically siphoning money right out of your operations budget.
6. Conduct an HVAC System Audit
HVAC systems are responsible for maintaining air quality and comfort on a production floor. They’re also responsible for nearly 52 percent of a building’s total energy consumption. Many variables dictate how efficiently an HVAC system performs, including system design, method of operation and maintenance.
To ensure your facility is getting the most from its HVAC system, conduct an HVAC audit. Based on the findings, take the time to conduct maintenance or consider upgrading the system.
Here are three ways to make your HVAC system more efficient:
- Install a programmable thermostat (which can reduce consumption by as much as 15 percent)
- Invest in a demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) system, which regulates outdoor air intake based on a facility’s concentration of carbon dioxide due to the number of staff inside.
- In some cases, the simple repair and insulation of ducting is enough to reduce HVAC energy consumption by 30-percent.
Constellation works with commercial and industrial companies of all sizes to help them identify opportunities to reduce consumption and lower costs.
Published: April 2, 2015