The most effective way to save money on your energy spend aside from ensuring you are with the cheapest retailer, is to ensure that you are operating an energy efficient site. Often small investments in energy efficient products and services will make substantial improvements to your long-term energy spend.
Although some products and practices may seem simple and minor separately, every unit you save is worth around 20 cents. That means that if you can save just 1 kWh per work hour, you can save over $500.00 per year !
Below are some easy tips and facts to ensure your site is using energy efficiently.
- Ensure you are on the best plan
The meter type and plan that you are currently on may not be the best option for your usage habits.
For example, you may have a site that has a Day/Night meter set-up, yet your energy is consumed
during standard business hours and you pay more for this "day" energy without benefitting from the
cheaper "night" rate. In this case you would be better to have a standard "Anytime" meter.
Whatever your meter type, or usage habits, it is important to contact your retailer to discuss your options and
to discuss the possible benefits of alternative meter configurations.
- Invest in energy efficient lighting
Probably the easiest way to begin to introduce energy-efficient products into your business.
Energy-efficient lightbulbs generally use around 1/5 of the energy of a normal bulb and typically last up to 10 times longer.
They are universally accepted and proven to decrease energy consumption for both businesses and homes.
They are readily available from all supermarkets, office supply stores and at specialised lighting stores at inexpensive prices.
- Turn it off
Be vigilant in turning off computers, appliances and machinery if they are not being used. Even on
stand-by or even if the appliance/machine seems insignificant, it all adds up.
As mentioned, every kWh is worth around 20 cents. That means just by ensuring that a
PC is off over the weekend, you will save around 3 kWhs. Over the course of a year, that's
around $30.00 - just for a single PC on stand-by. Naturally, the potential savings are greater for larger tools and machinery.
- Heat sensibly
If you are using plug-in electric heaters to heat large areas, you may benefit from the installation of a more
efficient heating method such as a modern heat pump. Just as is the case in most homes, space heating during
the colder months will often make up 20-30% of the total monthly bill, so any improvements will be substantial.
It is typically recommended to have an energy-efficiency firm audit the site and recommend the most appropriate
- Get an energy audit
There are many reputable firms who specialise in assisting businesses create energy-efficient workplaces
and to decrease the annual energy-spend. While this is more of an investment than the basic energy-efficiency
practices that businesses can do for themselves, the paybacks can often be worthwhile, especially if you are a
large consumer and receive a large monthly invoice.
While Switchme prefers not to recommend any particular energy-efficiency consultancy, they can be easily found online.
Tips applicable to:
- Animal Sheds
- Milking Sheds
- Feeding Sheds
Electricity consumption of ventilation equipment can increase by up to 60% if regular cleaning and maintenance is not upheld.
Regular cleaning of your machinery will prevent the buildup of dust and dirt which in time will slow down the efficiency of your equipment meaning it needs more power to function correctly.
Every couple of weeks you should check for dirt and other obstructions that will impede the flow of air.
Ensure these ducts are free from dirt and that the safety cages are kept clean, and that all ducting is kept free from obstruction.
Use this handy check list to ensure the optimum performance of your systems.
WARNING - Before carrying out any form of maintenance, ensure that all the system power is fully isolated for safety purposes.
- Perform a review of all ventilation systems
Make basic notes about each piece of equipment to assist you with the planning of the maintenance.
- Make sure all inlets are free from obstructions and that all protective grills and louvres are clean
Make sure all inlets are free from obstructions and that all protective grills and louvers are clean- This will enable smooth flow of air through the ventilation system.
- Ensure all fan blades are clean and can rotate without coming into contact with the outside housing
At the same time you should check if any bearings require lubrication
- Review ducting where possible and ensure the area is free from dirt and obstructions
- If your ventilation system is controlled by sensors it is important that these are kept clean also in order to function as designed.
- Check that the control settings of your systems are set to the correct levels
If you are unsure of what levels these should be, consult your equipment vendor or engineer for advice. Over ventilating your spaces will increase heating costs where both systems are run together causing cooling fans to run for longer than necessary.
Perform the above checks regularly and consider annual servicing of your equipment by a ventilation engineer to ensure your equipment functions efficiently in the long term.
Example of a dirty inlet fan housing and blades
Example of obstructed ducts preventing smooth air flow
The installation and correct use of humidity controls in crop drying will allow accurate control of heating systems and fans used during crop drying. These systems use a considerable amount of electricity and considerable savings can be made with simple and regular maintenance.
Use this check list to ensure your equipment is functioning to the best of its ability and to help identify energy saving opportunities within your organisation.
There are a few steps your business can take to kick start the reduction of your power consumption. The following tips cost absolutely nothing to implement.
- Staff Awareness
Introduce an Energy Efficient culture amongst your staff and colleagues. Stress the importance of switching off equipment whilst not in use and encourage them to follow suit. Encourage them to turn off appliances and machinery whenever practical - fans, water heaters, lights, compressors, crop storage building equipment, including augers, lights, ventilation and heaters should be turned off when not required.
- Maintenance Checklist
Compile a check list of areas where energy can be wasted to be addressed for maintenance. This could include window panes, frames and roof lights. Ensure the list is regularly assessed and updated.
- Regularly check equipment settings
Train all staff where possible to be able to adjust settings of ventilation and heating equipment. Ensure they are aware of the correct settings to use for different crops, their moisture levels and how the amount of crops being stored.
- Determine the level of control in place in your current crop drying setup
Ensure the system is in full working order by ensuring all elements are free from dirt. See the Fans & Ducts Checklist under Agriculture.
- Determine if the correct equipment is installed for the relevant use
Consult an expert as to the appropriateness of the type of systems installed against its current use.
- Ensure that your systems are fully calibrated
If not, employ a suitable qualified engineer to undertake the recalibration work. It is vital that this is done correctly to ensure the equipment is functioning correctly as a crop drying system.
- Regularly check the settings for the systems
Instruct all staff on the correct settings to be applied.
- Ensure the system if switched off when possible
Such as when crop grain store is empty. Or set the system to match the amount of crop being stored.
- Ensure the correct amount of infiltration is being used
Check that only the required amount of air infiltration is used to help maintain environmental conditions and reduce energy consumption when crop drying.
- Install Draught Proofing
Gaps around poorly fitted windows or doors allow heat to escape. If you can fit a 10c coin on its side between a window pane and the glass or door and frame, draught strips require to be fitted
- Complete a walk round survey to identify opportunities for improvement before harvesting
Look for gaps in between building elements such as roofs, walls, floors, windows and doors. Make a note of each issue and prioritized maintenance list.
- If doors need to be left open
Consider fitting plastic strip curtains.
- Ensure that the seals around louvre or inlet covers are tightly secured
Clean dirt and dust from under theses to ensure a good fit.
There are three basic steps your business can take that are cost free to implement and will get you started on reducing your power consumption.
- Staff awareness
Implement an energy efficient culture among your staff and colleagues. Educate and encourage them to switch off all non essential equipment whenever practical, including lighting, compressors, motors and all power tools.
- Heating Control
Where you have site accommodation, make sure the heating systems are controlled to match occupancy. Check all the time programmers match the shift patterns and don't over heat
- Using Machinery
Hire or purchase energy efficient plant and equipment. When completing a task ensure you are using the correct machine for the job. Avoid inefficient oversized machines, minimise idling times and use appropriate power settings.
The following tips are further ways to ensure your site is energy efficient and using minimal amounts of power.
- Ensure the correct form of Lighting is used on site
Temporary site lighting can be used externally to illuminate the storage and circulation areas and internally for general movement and for specific work tasks. Typically the types of lamps available range from simple tungsten filament lamps, and tungsten halogen and florescent tubes and gas discharge lamps. Wherever possible, fluorescent tubes and gas discharge lamps such as metal halide lamps should be requested over tungsten filament and tungsten halogen lamps. It's important to remember that the lights specified must be appropriate for the tasks being undertaken.
- Specify energy efficient onsite accommodation
Temporary buildings used on construction sites such as offices, security huts and living quarters are not usually energy efficient and are generally manufactured from poorly insulated materials and fitted with lighting/heating systems with inadequate controls and poor efficiency. It has been recognized that this is an area where significant costs can be cut and to address the situation there are companies such as www.portacom.co.nz that offer energy efficient temporary buildings for the construction trade.
- Switch off generators when not required
Switch off generators when not required- Generators are often used to provide power when a main source of power is not available. These generally use diesel, petrol or bio-fuel to run. Ensuring these are only used when electricity is required can help reduce the sites fuel costs.
The following recommendations are applicable if you run a dairy farm which uses refrigeration systems and regular maintenance of condenser coils.
Regular maintenance and cleaning of your dairy equipment can save a 200 cow dairy unit around $950 per year.
Refrigeration will form a considerable part of the energy costs for a dairy farm. Approximately 25% saving can be made through maintaining correct temperature settings and by following the checklist outlined below. Refrigeration maintenance is quick and easy to undertake. Regular check will ensure your equipment is running as efficiently as possible.
- Remove excessive ice build-up
Reducing the build-up of ice on evaporators’ results in a better heat exchange. Use a stiff brush to remove the ice and frost but never chip at it as this can cause damage to the fins. Heavy build up of ice needs to be removed as per the manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting the equipment.
- Listen for excessive noise
Noisy compressors may be a sign of wear and tear on items such as bearings and indicates a change is required.
- Clean condenser coils
Avoid a build-up of dirt to ensure an uninterrupted flow of air over the coils.
- Keep condenser vents clear of debris
These vents can often become blocked by dirt and debris, especially if they are external. Remove any blockages and make sure that the air is free to flow from the unit. Use a brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dirt from the vents of chiller units and ensure that fan blades and safety cages are clean and clear from obstructions.
- Check refrigerant levels through the sight panel if fitted
Levels that are too high or too low will result in increased energy consumption. If leakage is suspected, employ a qualified engineer to make adjustments.
- Check pipes for any signs of leaks or corrosion
If either signs are apparent, consult a refrigeration engineer to perform repairs/replacements.
- Ensure the correct cooling temperature is maintained
Over cooling will result in a considerable increase of energy consumption.
Vacuum pumps are a vital part of any automatic dairy operation.
Total energy consumed by the vacuum pump can equate to 26% of all energy consumption of the operation. Again regular cleaning and general maintenance can be carried out easily by onsite staff and can help towards reducing costs.
- Undertake regular visual checks
Regularly check all elements of the vacuum pump that are easily visible and accesable.
- Check for leaks and other vulnerable points where leaks are likely to occur
Make repairs where necessary. Proactive maintenance will both ensure constant high efficiency and also reduce the likelihood of system failures in the future
- Ensure seals on the vacuum pump are checked during scheduled maintenance by a qualified engineer
- Check for additional or increased noise coming from the vacuum pump
This could indicate wear and therefore reduce the efficiency of its operation
- Ensure systems only run when required
All staff members should be instructed on its operation and be aware of how and when it should be switched off.
There are three steps that your business can take to reduce your energy consumption which are cost free to implement.
- Staff Awareness
Kick start an energy efficient culture among your staff and colleagues. Educate and encourage them to switch off all non essential equipment whenever practical, including lighting, ventilation systems, air compressors, machine tools and process equipment.
- Heating Control
12% of all energy consumed by the manufacturing industry is used for heating spaces. Ensure you are not over heating the work place by following the recommended temperature guidelines:
|Offices||19 - 21 °C|
|Workshops||16 - 19 °C|
|Heavy Work||11 - 14 °C|
|Stores||10 - 12 °C|
- Heating Time Control
Make use of your systems timer control to match building occupancy.
Over 10% of electricity supplied to the engineering industry is used to compress air. In some cases, it can be as much as 30% of the total energy usage, yet the process of compressing air can be very wasteful of electricity. Of the total energy supplied to a compressor, as little as 8-10% may be converted into useful energy. This makes it a very expensive form of energy. Leaks, poor maintenance, misapplication and poor control are all common areas where compressed air is wasted and this page provides practical advice for minimizing wastage, and ensuring that compressed air is used as efficiently as possible.
Compressed air is often over used within the engineering industry as air is perceived to be a free commodity and many people are unaware that the cost of compressed air is many times that of other energy sources. As a result it is often used as a quick and easy way to remove dust and wood shavings from machinery, it’s a common mistake to believe this is a low cost solution when in fact the opposite is true !
The following tips will help you reduce the use of compressed air and therefore reduce your energy costs.
- Appoint a compressed air Manager
It will be their responsibility to ensure overall management and use of the resource.
- Raise awareness of the cost of compressed air
Re educate employees to be aware of how much the resource costs the company and encourage its use sparingly.
- Implement a maintenance program
Set targets for reducing avoidable waste.
- Define a purchasing policy
Determine a specific capped figure for spending on compressing air and implement management to stick to it.
- Switch off compressor when not in use
Even when idle, the compressor can still consume between 20-70% of its full load power.
- Establish specific uses for the resource
Use compressed air only when an alternative manner of completing a specific task is not available. Specify which tasks are to be completed with the resource.
- Measure the air pressure
Regulate the air pressure required by the end use device can result in considerable savings. Never use more pressure than is necessary to complete tasks.For example most blow guns should have a maximum pressure of around 200kPa (2 bar) but are frequently used at a much higher pressure of 600 kPa (6 bar).
- Reduce Leaks
All compressed air systems have leaks, even new ones. Reducing air leakage is the single most important energy saving action for any site. The most common causes for leaks are:
- Manual condensate drain valves left open
- Shut off valves left open
- Leaking hoses and couplings
- Leaking pipes, flanges and pipe joints
- Leaking pressure regulators
- Equipment left in operation while not in use
- Top Tip !
Make sure you have an ongoing test and repair system for leaks - Remember that leaks can reappear and a hole as small as 3mm could cost your company as much as $4,200 per year in wasted energy! Finding and repairing such a small leak could save you enough money to cover the cost of purchasing an ultra sonic leak detector!
Within the average hospitality business, heating can equate to approximately 40% of energy consumption which means this is an area where there are big opportunities for savings to be made.
Heating costs can be reduced by maintaining appropriate temperatures and ensuring that heating equipment and controls are managed correctly.
It is possible to reduce your heating costs by up to 30% by the implementation of the following simple energy saving measures.
- Appropriate internal temperatures
A good starting point is to know the recommended temperatures for specific areas in within your company. Use the below temperatures as a guide.
|Bars, Lounges||20 - 22 °C|
|Guest Bathrooms||26 - 27 °C|
|Guest Bedrooms||19 - 21 °C|
|Restaurants and Dining Rooms||22 - 24 °C|
|Corridors||19 - 21 °C|
|Kitchens||16 - 18 °C|
|Laundries||16 - 19 °C|
- Maintain boilers and pipework
Have hot water cylinders serviced regularly by a reputable professional. Gas fuelled boilers should be serviced once a year, oil burners twice a year. A regularly serviced hot water system can save as much as 10% on the cost of heating water.
- Insulate hot water cylinders, pipes and valves
Insulation of these areas will prevent heat from escaping. Payback for this investment can usually be expected within a year of installation adding considerable additional savings over the years
- Heat control systems
Often, simple adjustments to the location and setting of controls can reduce costs without affecting staff and customer comfort. Signs of poor control in these areas include:
- Heating being used in unoccupied areas or areas of occasional occupancy
- Heat settings being too high or not high enough because thermostat is located in direct sunlight giving an inaccurate room temperature
- Ensure controls match building occupancy
Check that the system is only operating during business hours and when customers require. These requirements will vary throughout the day and subsequently throughout the year. Use automated programmable switches to control this process and review time settings every month or so to ensure they are correct. Manual timer systems can function inefficiently because of a short term adjustment being made and forgotten about.
- Check location of thermostats
The location of thermostats is very important. Check they are not influenced by draughts, direct sunlight or internal heat sources like radiators or fireplaces.
- Discourage staff from using thermostats as on/off switches
Turning the thermostat to maximum will not speed up the heating process, it will just use unnecessary excessive amounts of electricity.
Provision of hot water is essential for hospitality businesses but it can lead to considerable energy costs. However, water is a controllable resource and it is possible to save on both water and energy costs by implementing some inexpensive efficiency measures.
- Set appropriate hot water temperatures
Excessive heating of hot water is wasteful and could scald staff or customers. The optimum temperature for stored hot water is between 55 - 60 °C which is adequate to kill Legionella bacteria and is sufficiently warm enough for staff and customers to use.
- Tap controls
These devices switch taps off after a certain amount of time and are useful in communal areas such as toilets and leisure facilities within hotels. Leaving hot taps left running is as good as pouring money down the drain.
- Spray taps and water efficient showerheads
These reduce the volume of water coming out of a tap or shower and can reduce consumption without affecting the comfort of the user provided that the water pressure is adequate.
- Urinal flush controls
These help to reduce unnecessary flushing in toilets.
Lighting is another fundamental part of any hospitality business. By implementing energy efficiency measures, lighting energy costs can sometimes be reduced by more than 50%.
By making the following replacements, you will notice a considerable reduction in your energy costs.
- Replace Tungsten light bulbs with Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs) and make a 75% saving and a longer lamp life.
- 38mm Fluorescent tubes can be replaced with equivalent 26mm triphosphor fluorescent tubes of a lower wattage achieve an 8% saving plus longer lamp life.
- High wattage filament lamps or tungsten halogen lamps can be replaced with metal halide or high wattage compact fluorescent lighting to achieve a 65-75% cost reduction
- Mains voltage reflector lamps, filament spot and flood lights can be replaced with low voltage tungsten halogen lighting or metal halide discharge lighting to reduce lighting costs by up to 50%.
- Reflector lamps and filament spot lights can be replaced with low voltage tungsten halogen lighting or metal halide discharge lighting to reduce costs between 30-50%.
- Fluorescent fittings with the old 2ft 40W and 8ft 125W lamps can be replaced with efficient fittings using reflectors or louvers or prismatic controllers with high frequency electronic or low loss control gear and triphosphor lamps saving you between 30-45% and improving the quality of lighting.
There are a few small steps that a business can take to ensure a reduction of energy consumption.
There is no cost associated with implementing these steps but are proven measures of effectiveness.
- Staff awareness
Introduce an energy efficient culture within your office. Educate and encourage your staff to switch off equipment and appliances whenever practical. These include computers, lights and air conditioning units.
- Ensure windows and doors remain closed while heating or cooling
Only operate one system at a time, refrain from heating and cooling simultaneously.
- Heating and Cooling systems
Ensure these systems only operate when there are people in the building. Take advantage of timer controls to coincide with building occupancy and never run either system outside of business hours.
Further investments can be made to ensure a reduction of energy costs over the long term.
- Install light sensors in areas of minimal occupancy such as hallways and bathrooms
Why spend money lighting empty spaces? Light sensors can be used to light rooms as and when someone enters and switch off automatically when the room is vacated.
- Install Optimum start/stop controls
These save energy by reducing the boiler output on warmer days which prevents over heating of the building and reduces the amount of heat wasted from distribution pipework.
Optimum start/stop controls can often provide a 10% efficiency improvement and both these controls usually pay back their investment within 2 years.
Leaving computers monitors and printer/photocopiers on standby, even if they are switched off on the weekends and holiday periods can still cost a medium sized office based businesses around $600 over the course of the year !