How can energy consumption be reduced and energy costs lowered? Nearly every company is seeking efficiency and cost controls. For many, the answer to this question is at the core of a company’s environmental sustainability and long-term profitability. Some could even argue that the answer is so crucial that a company’s existence may be determined by the answer to that question. So how do you find the answer to this important question?
The first step in successfully reducing energy consumption and costs is to create a baseline company wide energy profile. This is necessary when considering energy use and cost reductions. An energy profile will reveal how and where energy is being consumed company-wide. A good analogy is your annual physical. Just as a medical professional assesses vital signs such as temperature, blood-pressure, and heart rate, as well as, considers age, weight, height, any medications we take, or any current medical conditions. All of this data creates a “body- wide baseline health profile” of sorts. By extension, when we seek to examine our company’s “energy-health” we also would start by accumulating as much data about how and where energy is being consumed company-wide.
Energy Profile Creation – First Steps
Energy profile development can be as simple as collecting and analyzing monthly gas and electric bills. There is no limit, however, as to how sophisticated the data collecting process can be, such as using energy management systems that use individual sub-meters and software to track energy usage. When it comes to data collection it is important to remember that more available data results in higher degrees of analyses which can lead to better focused reductions in usage. This does not mean, however, that a very simple data collection process cannot yield valuable results. A very simple and cost effective approach could include the following tasks:
Knowing and understanding energy fuel sources is a key part of developing an energy profile. For example, a survey must be done to determine all types of energy fuel sources used company-wide. The most commonly used fuel sources include electricity, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel fuels. Once all fuel sources are identified then all equipment that is powered by each fuel source can be identified and tabulated. Utility invoices, fuel receipts, and meter readings will provide total consumption of each fuel source.
Energy Profile Benefits
An energy profile aids in understanding where the largest users of energy reside. For example, without having an energy profile, a company may undertake an expensive project to replace all lighting with high efficiency lighting and controls. Later, after creating an energy profile, it was discovered that only 3% of electricity consumption is used for lighting. The energy profile revealed that over 50% of company electricity is consumed by the refrigeration operation. A project to increase refrigeration equipment efficiency is more likely to yield a larger decrease in overall company-wide electricity consumption. Without a baseline energy profile it is nearly impossible to determine which efficiency improvement projects would make the biggest impact for electricity reduction. Cost savings and return on investment (ROI) calculations would be inaccurate and simply guesses. Energy profiles provide the hard data on which to base such calculations and subsequent recommendations for choosing efficiency improvement projects.
Putting into practice some of the simple suggestions and tasks outlined in this article can be the beginnings of an energy profile and an answer to that ever important question: How can energy consumption be reduced and energy costs lowered? Once your usage is clearly understood, you can then start to focus on opportunities for consumption reduction. Want more information, give us a call.
Blog Post by Matt Giron.