We are in the middle of a Green Belt project, to reduce energy in our company. Our initial efforts to make significant reductions in energy were not funded (LED lighting upgrade), so we’re looking at other less costly ways to reduce energy.
This is one reason why I like Six Sigma projects. Typically, people have ideas to solve problems, and they go in with a known solution (such as changing lights to LEDs). When that solution gets rejected or not approved, the improvement effort typically ends.
When we start with the problem (too much energy being used), and a solution is not approved, the project simply continues to the next possible solution, until a goal is achieved, or management is satisfied with the improvement. The team keeps working on the problem, and is not tied to, or biased by, a specific solution.
Since our initial improvement was rejected, I’ve been reviewing many reference guides and lists of low cost ways companies can save energy. Our local utilities actually does a good job of encouraging companies to reduce their energy use.
There are two lists that I’d like to share from our utility (Portland General Electric) and one from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that might be helpful to your company. This list is not all-inclusive, but might be a good starting point.
- Quick Tips to Save Your Business Energy
- Operations and Maintenance Cost Savings Checklist for Industrial Facilities (only available for PGE customers at this time)
- EPA Lean, Energy & Climate Toolkit
I’ve combined the lists below.
You can also download this printer-friendly checklist here.
Analyze, model and predict energy usage, to know what expected usage should be each month, in order to better understand where usage is coming from and when problems arise (using statistical analysis)
Install constant monitoring equipment to better understand energy usage
Maintain equipment regularly to reduce leaks
Train and educate employees on how to identify leaks, and who to contact
Locate and repair any leaks identified
Replace “leak prone” components
Isolate unused system parts to avoid feeding leaks
Check for unsafe or wasteful uses of compressed air (blowing dirt of parts and equipment) or water (not dry cleaning as a first pass attempt to clean)
Turn Off Equipment
Conduct an Energy Walk and perform a walk-through audit after hours and turn off equipment that is left on overnight or over the weekend in an empty building
- Use this checklist as a guide
- Ask your staff what makes up your plant base load that runs all of the time?
- Ask them “does everything need to run continually?”
Send out equipment shutoff reminders to employees prior to each holiday and shutdown period
Post stickers and signs to remind employees what items need to be shut off
Check if motors, fans, pumps are running idle when not needed
Undo Manual Overrides
Look for attempts to modify automation such as:
- Automatic doors being forced open
- Timers being reset
- HVAC controls being adjusted or reset
- Post signs where manual overrides tend to occur to educate offenders not to alter system
Conduct a Water Walk to find opportunities to reduce hot water usage
Lower thermostat setting to the lowest acceptable temperature
Install low-flow aerators
Repair water leaks immediately
Verify faucet sensors in bathrooms do not stay on too long
Install weather stripping around doors
Caulk gaps around windows, outlets and anywhere services enter the building (electrical, cable, etc.)
Add or repair insulation in roofs and walls
Use window shades or low-cost reflective film to block heat from summer sun
Take advantage of natural daylight
If work area is over lit, turn off or dim non-critical areas
Install occupancy sensors in less-used areas
Install timers and/or photo-sensors on outside lights
Eliminate unnecessary lights and lower light levels when appropriate
Review location of lighting, to see if less lighting is possible with better placement
Check fixture/lamp beam patterns to match application:
- Narrow beam is ideal for tall stacked aisles
- Medium beam is for medium bay or low-racked, open-aisle industrial and retail areas
- Wide beam is recommended for wide open areas
- Remember light uniformity is essential for a safe work space
Consider LED and other higher efficiency lighting options, such as:
- Upgrade T12 fluorescent fixtures with high-performance T8 fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts or new LED options
- Upgrade older (10+ years) T8 systems with high-performance T8s and electronic ballasts or new LED options
- Replace incandescent exit signs with highly efficient LED signs
- Consider other LED options, now available for all common interior and exterior lighting applications
Understand Equipment Settings
Regularly review all automated control systems and set-points by setting reminders in your calendar. Beware of buried set-points
Review calibration of equipment and systems which control temperatures, pressures, motor current, and capacity indicators
Use a smart thermostat to automatically adjust temperature according to building use and occupancy
Read readily visible air capacity and pressure gauges for high pressure drops through lines and equipment
Review Equipment Performance
Buy ENERGY STAR® qualified office equipment, including office refrigerators and other appliances when making new purchases
Turn off computers, monitors, computer peripherals (wireless keyboards and mouse, webcam, speakers), personal fans, space heaters, printers and other electronic equipment when not in use for extended periods
Provide power strips to make it easy to turn off multiple items with one power button
Use “smart” power strips that turn off equipment when not in use
Install “energy misers” on indoor vending machines
If equipment needs replacing due to wear out, excessive energy use, or underperformance, consider energy-efficient equipment
Replace old motors with high-efficiency and variable speed drive motors
Check to see if there are any equipment that is designed to save energy, but is turned off
Fix failed valves or regulators
Optimize compressed air systems
Use personal electric space heaters appropriately (radiant-type heaters are usually the most efficient)
Use fans to delay or reduce the need for cooling
Service your HVAC system twice a year and check filters every month — clean or replace them when dirty
Identify, document and implement seasonal adjustments to building and equipment
Cycle heaters or air conditioner units off when appropriate
Use controls when available to keep air pulsed and reduce regulator pressure when appropriate to better manage air flow
Look for uninsulated ovens, kilns, heater bands on extrusion, water pipes, and other areas where heat loss may occur
Keep it Clean!
Conduct a 5S event. These events are a great way to improve cleaning and organization in the workplace
Clean areas that might impact energy-efficiency such as fouled heat transfer surfaces or clogged filters/strainers
How do you get started evaluating these different options? I would highly recommend conducting an Energy or Water Walk. This will help you organize a cross-functional team to walk through the work area, and help you evaluate this checklist, to see if there are any low-cost opportunities to pursue.
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