When it comes to cutting costs, many organizations focus on productivity, and although it is unmistakably very important, energy cost savings are also achievable yet often overlooked as solutions. Best operating practices, along with improved process heating technologies, can lead to significant energy savings at any plant. Consider the following common losses and avoidable costs to jump start your energy efficiency program:
1. Reduce “No Load” Load
If you’re not making parts, or if your building is not occupied, you shouldn’t consume anything. No load is the 15-25% of boiler, air, compressor or water system consumption that’s just there to support leaks/inefficiencies.
2. Negotiate Your Rates
Almost all electric utilities have special deals available; knowledge is power. Know your plant or building’s options, create leverages, and make sure you understand all available rate schedules (even the experimental ones).
3. Minimize Steam Pressure
Why generate at 150 only to reduce to 30 or 10? Reducing pressures can save in the following ways: Better boiler efficiencies; Lower piping radiation/convention losses; Lower trap losses; Lower feed water pump energy.
4. Minimize Air Pressure
Dropping even 4 psig from a typical industrial plant system can have an enormous impact. Look for things like installing more/bigger receivers, piping changes, and nozzles to reduce open blower-offs.
5. Lighting Opportunities
Do a lighting audit. Compare to IEEE standards. Then minimize with reflectors or lamp changes. Consider occupancy and daylight sensors also.
6. Re-evaluate and Optimize Your Compressed Air Distribution/Intake Systems
Do a compressed air audit. Look to minimize severe drops. Update your piping/equipment drawings. A few pounds of operating pressure shaved off pays for a lot of piping change.
7. Zone Out Your Compressed Air
Not all parts of your facility may need compressed air at the same times at the same pressures. Installing solenoid valves to segregate the systems makes it possible to minimize losses and “no load” loads for off areas.
8. Install Power Factor Correction Capacitors
If your utility bill is on KVA’s and has the right rate structure, this is a simple “no brainer” with a payback of usually 6-12 months. Call your utility company and ask.
9. Fix Up Your Building Envelope
Most of a building’s heating load (about 75%) is unwanted air moving through. Sealing dock doors and retrofitting windows is a good start. Also try to minimize the operation of exhausts, if possible.
10. Optimize Your Fluid Movement Systems
Make sure pumps/fans are operating with the right motors, sheaves, and impellers. This is a simple, easy and lucrative fix. Check design conditions versus actual needs.
11. Motor Efficiencies
Energy efficient motors can save 5-10%, depending on how bad current systems are operating. This is usually a 1-3 year payback on older, heavily loaded motors. A motor audit is the ticket for this.
12. Insulate All Steam Piping, Valves, and Flanges
Most facilities end up with 20% of their steam piping systems not insulated. It gets worse if you consider valves, flanges and pieces of equipment. Insulation is a “no-brainer,” easy, lucrative item that often gets overlooked.
13. Convert Wet Sprinklers to Dry and Do Not Heat
Many folks keep temperatures at 45°-50°F so as not to freeze sprinklers. Dry sprinklers, by definition, have no water to freeze. Conversions from wet to dry can result in big savings.
14. Zone Out Your Steam Systems
Just like compressed air, you probably don’t need steam everywhere all the time. At the same time, automatic shutdown/start-up controllers that ride on PRV station pilot lines are not expensive.
15. Convert Electric Space Heat/Process Systems to Gas
So-called cheap, “special rate” electrical power is usually $.04-$.05 per KWH. This is still $11-$12 per million BTU’s. Gas at $5/MCF and 75% efficiency gives you the same BTU’s for about half the cost.
16. Eliminate Boilers and Steam Systems
Today, it makes no sense to burn fuel at 70% efficiency and then lose more energy in the distribution system. Point of use gas technologies like direct-fired ventilation units and 95% efficient water heaters make more sense.
17. Evaluate, Minimize and Upgrade Exhaust and Ventilation Systems
Don’t just throw out air because it smells or has dust in it. Consider absorbent media scrubbers for smells and specialty bag houses or socks for particulates.
18. Recover Waste Heat for Space Heating
The waste heat from a 100 hp air compressor can displace about $10,000 in natural gas space heat over a year. Consider unheated make up air tubes for areas high in heat instead of heated make up air.
19. Optimize Process Cooling/Millwater Systems
Process cooling water or millwater systems are often an overlooked opportunity. You can easily take advantage of colder winter conditions and save energy. How about variable speed drives on pumps with segmented and controlled distribution systems?
20. Minimize Outside Air to Handlers
Outside air to air handlers is expensive. Have you examined and set yours lately? Are they open all night even though no one is around? Have you considered CO2 demand based outside air controls?
There are a variety of options that you can implement to increase savings and become more energy efficient. Start with the quick fixes and conduct the necessary analyses to consider which systems to optimize next. There is always a benefit gained from taking the time to evaluate current processes to identify ways to improve current inefficiencies, whether via increased production, revenue or safety.
Honeywell Combustion Safety, formerly CEC Combustion Safety, LLC, has been in business since 1984. With engineers and staff members that sit on Code committees such as ASME CSD-1, NFPA 56, NFPA 85, NFPA 86, and NFPA 87, our inside expertise is integrated within all of our practices and our global reach ensures that customers around the world are kept safe. Contact us at +1 216.749.2992 or visit www.combustionsafety.com for additional information.