Savings Tips for Commercial and Industrial Customers
Commercial and industrial buildings say a lot about the communities where they exist. The companies that operate the buildings in which we work, shop, grow, build, and learn spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on electricity needs, but it’s estimated the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it consumes. In such large facilities, the importance of energy efficiency cannot be overstated.
While there is no silver bullet in achieving energy savings and efficiency, combining any number of the following could help reduce energy use and result in real savings for commercial and industrial customers:
- Replace inefficient lighting: Don’t underestimate the savings that come with replacing inefficient lighting with LED lighting. Energy-efficient bulbs not only last longer than traditional bulbs, but can reduce energy consumption anywhere from 25 to 80 percent while often improving productivity. Combining more efficient bulbs with daylight controllers helps cut down on waste – without having negative impacts on a building’s occupants.
Case study in lighting savings: A small accounting firm in Gastonia recently decided to upgrade their old fluorescent T8 lighting. Their building held six distinct offices and each office used four fixtures. Each fixture held four 32-Watt, four-foot lamps. They were able to maintain the same lighting level by using 18-Watt LED bulbs and were able to lower the lamp count by half. The resulting annual savings was projected at more than $2,000. Factor in a rebate of more than $600 and it’s clear those savings can really add up!
- Generator use is key: Generators prove their worth particularly during coincident peak times to help defray kilowatt demand costs, saving commercial and industrial customers big dollars annually. On average, when a customer installs a generator used for load management, they can achieve a savings of 25% or more in their electric costs. Although generators are large initial investments for customers, they typically pay for themselves within five to seven years.
Case study in generator savings: In Washington, N.C., one industrial customer has been working with the ElectriCities team to analyze their electric costs and identify opportunities for savings. Through participating in load management with the use of a generator this Washington customer, with a load just over 1 MW, could save up to 32% in retail electric costs (excluding operation, maintenance, and fuel to operate the generator). After factoring in estimated operations, maintenance, and fuel costs associated with running a generator for load management, it is estimated that this customer can achieve gross savings of approximately 22% in retail electric costs by participating in load management.
- Motors and drives: Investing in energy efficient motors and drives pays off. With motor-driven systems accounting for nearly 50% of all electricity generated across the globe, ensuring your motors are as efficient as possible is another way to save energy and money. While these technologies require an investment up front, they will help conserve energy and save money in the long run.
- Monitor air compressors: Often overlooked, air compressors can be a large source of wasted energy. Compressed air is viewed as one of the most expensive utilities in the industrial space. Air compressor leaks can waste as much as 30% of your system output. A single ¼ inch leak in a 110 psi system can drain nearly $18,000 from your coffers annually. If you don’t have a leak control program, putting one in place could save you thousands. Installing a master controller, reducing air leaks, monitoring for wasteful uses of compressed air, and increasing the amount of compressed air storage can all improve a facility’s energy use while reducing costs.
- Infrastructure upgrades: Significant infrastructure upgrades – including increasing roof insulation, replacing old windows, and upgrading fan systems – can result in real cost savings, a reduction in energy use, and increased comfort of building occupants. Mechanical insulation is an often overlooked area but should be inspected regularly. Ductwork, water distribution pipes (chilled and hot), and steam systems should all be checked. If these systems have no insulation, wet insulation, or missing sections of insulation, energy and dollars are being wasted.
- Reduce office plug load: Many low and no-cost practices exist for reducing energy costs associated with plug loads. Many devices plugged into a building’s electrical system – things like computers, printers, space heaters, and vending machines – have settings to help save energy. For example, the average office desktop computer wastes roughly $40 per year in electricity. Multiply $40 by the number of computers in your building and you could have some real savings on your hands by applying power management settings. Utilizing power management settings on office equipment can help put computers and other electronics to sleep or even shut them down when not in use. For example, just one personal space heater can cost $170 per year to operate while personal refrigerators can cost $45 per year. Don’t underestimate the impact of these peripheral energy consumers!
- Energy Benchmarking: Make a point to regularly review your building’s energy consumption to identify new and different areas for savings. Regularly review programmable thermostats, boilers, and chiller controls to make sure each is running at peak efficiency based on the time of year. Creating a culture of energy awareness within your organization is a great way to get employees involved. Consider designating an “energy ambassador” or “energy reduction lead” to drive energy awareness efforts and help educate other employees on the importance of energy awareness. ElectriCities is another great resource in helping to achieve your organization’s energy savings goals. ElectriCities’ energy efficiency advisors visit businesses across the state to provide guidance on ways to cut energy costs and assess the reliability and efficiency of their electrical systems.
ElectriCities offers Key Account support for commercial and industrial customers within our member cities as we partner to provide resources and tools across public power communities. From audits and rebates to communications tools and energy education, we look forward to working with customers on achieving their priorities.