How do I Incorporate “efficiency” Measures in My Energy Plan? Answer: Start everywhere. I’m not talking just energy efficiency here, I mean everywhere. I have never seen a business not benefit from becoming more efficient. In many businesses, getting “more efficient” on energy usage should be last on the list of getting “more efficient”. My 1998 office building was very efficient in 1998, but today I could do so much more with the changes in available building technologies and pricing. However, at less than 1% of my annual costs of operating my business, it would not be 1st on my list of areas where I could move more profit to the bottom line with increased efficiency. I think that kind of high level view should be taken first by every business. If energy costs are important to your bottom line, then it is important enough to take seriously by improving your energy efficiency.
It has been proven over the past 30-40 years that energy efficiency is one of the, if not the most, cost effective means to lower energy costs. That is precisely why most every state operates energy efficiency programs inside and outside of their regulated electrical distribution system operators (i.e- your local electric utility company). These state driven initiatives are a great first step for any company wishing to explore the prospects of some financial assistance or rebates provided for technical assistance and efficiency measures. Of course you are 100% able to take a much more aggressive approach than these sponsored programs do. However, it’s worth seeing if you qualify for NH assistance that you are already paying for in your NH electrical energy rates and your NH tax dollars.
The second part of this effort really then depends upon a simple cost v. benefit determination or payback analysis on every element that can be flagged for possible improvement:
- Thermal envelope (air tightness and insulation levels)
- Indoor and outdoor lighting systems ( controls and electrical consumption/lumen of lighting)
- Heating and cooling plant equipment (fuel and electrical efficiency, optimization & controls)
- Process systems (pumps, motors, blowers, dryers, conveyors, compressors, heaters, coolers, refrigeration, controls, etc)
- Fuel options (and fuel switching options for new equipment)
- Electrical self-generation and CHP (technically not “efficiency”, but usually examined as alternatives or complementary elements to energy efficiency measures)
Essentially, most companies would find it beneficial to consume less energy first through the implementation of cost-effective efficiency measures BEFORE adding self-generation so that the new electrical “generator” would be sized closer to the actual need and/or optimum payback point. That same approach is taken today when people pursue a Zero-Net-Energy project of any kind, using efficiency first to lower the energy use to an optimum (cost benefit) level before adding self-generation to get to a zero or near net zero level.
My only caution would be to not throw some options away too fast if they don’t fit neatly into your company’s financial payback criteria. I know that is harder to do if you are answering to Wall Street every quarter. There is most always some low hanging fruit (ex.- lighting) that is easy to grab, but don’t lose sight of the long time period that these improvements provide an annual savings, as well as raising plant value. Not everything is going to fit into a simple 2 year payback analysis, so maybe a more robust alternative ROI examination is worth another view before setting it on the shelf. Here is a short story from NH’s Worthern Industries about measures they have recently undertaken, for example, under a 5 year payback.
Some helpful Links used:
Gov’t Efficiency Programs: https://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/calculating-energy-savings