- By Dan Steiner, PE, CEM, CDSM; President
Think for a moment about how much your facility pays annually for utilities: electricity, natural gas, etc. Now, think about taking one-fourth of an equivalent amount of money—and simply throwing it out the window!
Sure, this notion sounds crazy. But even in today’s cost-conscious world, that’s still essentially what American business does when it comes to the use of energy dollars. Recently compiled data by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (www.llnl.gov) shows that nearly one-fourth of the energy consumed by U.S. commercial and industrial firms in 2010 ended up as “rejected”—wasted and nonproductive—energy.
How much benefit would it be if your company could save even a portion of these lost energy dollars? Unless yours is different than most, my guess is significant. For this reason, plus because energy in all its forms isn’t getting any cheaper, projects that improve energy efficiency or reduce consumption only make good sense for the firm wanting to be more competitive in 2012.
How much benefit would it be if your company could save even a portion of these lost energy dollars? Unless yours is different than most, my guess is significant. For this reason, plus because energy in all its forms isn’t getting any cheaper, projecA great way to cut consumption and save money is to make use of incentives offered by many utilities. Here are a few from the electric utility side:s that improve energy efficiency or reduce consumption only make good sense for the firm wanting to be more competitive in 2012.
- AEP Ohio’s gridSMART® initiative rebates up to 50% of project costs for improvements like more efficient motors and HVAC equipment. Its Express Program pays up to 100% of costs for small-business energy efficiency projects. There is even a retroactive program with partial rebates for projects completed as far back as January 1, 2009.
As a member of the gridSMART Solutions Provider network, D.L. Steiner will be happy to help you take advantage of these great programs. Give us a call.
- The Efficiency Smart program by American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP) offers industrial/commercial customers with annual usage of 20,000 to 500,000 kWh rebates for improvements that provide permanent usage reductions. These include lighting, HVAC, motors/drives, compressors, and refrigeration units. AMP also offers a custom program for those who use more than 500,000 kWh/year.
- The Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives (OREC) offers reimbursement of 50% (up to $5,000) to its industrial and commercial clients who complete energy audits.
Check with your utility companies or contact D.L. Steiner for the energy efficiency rebates available to you. Refocusing on the basics is another path to savings. For example, how good is your power factor? Do you have a good control system to help you avoid demand charges?
By far the most effective tool for getting more from your energy dollars is the professional energy audit. An energy audit inspects and analyzes energy flows at your company to identify where energy inputs can be reduced without negatively affecting output. It prioritizes these to help you know which provide the greatest energy savings. D.L. Steiner offers several different levels of energy audits, depending on your need:
- Energy assessments, also known as “walk-through” or “one-day” audits,” that (1) compare your facility’s current energy consumption with reference standards for similar operations to determine “good,” “average,” and “bad” performance and (2) identify your facility’s most obvious areas of energy inefficiency and waste.
- Standard audits, intermediate-level audits that use data collection, interviews, facility/system studies, on-site measurement and testing, and engineering calculations to identify ECMs (energy conservation measures) appropriate for your company and the economic factors related to their implementation.
- Investment-grade audits (IGAs) that use in-depth data collection, comprehensive measurement and verification (M&V), and extensive engineering analysis to quantify the risks/rewards of energy projects—especially large capital ones—so stakeholders can be confident of the ROI before committing funds to these efforts.
As a certified energy manager (CEM), I’ve come to appreciate the value of “measure before doing.” The key to a successful energy audit is using M&V techniques that accurately determine how much energy the various initiatives will save. D.L. Steiner conducts our audits according to the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP). IPMVP is the recognized standard for reliability in energy savings claims.
Regardless of how well your company does on the energy efficiency scale, chances are good its rating could be even better—maybe by as much as 25%—for a real boost to your bottom line. Contact D.L. Steiner today for more on how we can help you save energy and reduce your energy costs in 2012.