One of the best ways for businesses to increase profits is to save money by saving energy. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, most organizations can save two percent to 10 percent—or more—through better energy management.
As lighting, HVAC, manufacturing, and transportation equipment ages, it naturally loses efficiency. At the same time, new regulations have spurred equipment makers to create more efficient designs, which quickly pay for themselves by using less energy.
Installing energy efficient lighting is usually one of the first steps businesses take to reduce their energy budgets. In the last three to five years, highly efficient LED-based lighting equipment designed for offices, stores, factories, and other businesses has come on the market. A 6-watt LED light bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb. That means LED bulbs can result in a 90% savings in energy costs per bulb. The large amounts of electricity saved with LED technology means investments often pay off within a year or two.
Running banks of IT servers and keeping them cool to maintain operating efficiency draws huge amounts of electricity. Owners of large data centers may find that solar panel or fuel cell technologies can quickly become cost effective.
The reliability as well as energy efficiency of IT equipment drops as it ages. Researchers are continually discovering new materials and technologies, which increase server capacity, as well as improve energy efficiency and the quality of software services. Upgrading equipment sooner to take advantage of these new discoveries may make help reduce energy use and increase profits.
Whether fueling company fleets, sourcing materials, or shipping products, energy used for transportation can represent a hefty chunk of a business’s budget. Many companies that heavily rely on a fleet of vehicles are converting to electric engines or alternative energy sources such as fuel cells, ethanol, and even methanol.
Another way to cut down on transportation costs is to reduce the weight and volume of supplies and products needing to be moved, with new packaging and product designs. It also helps to find needed sources that are closer to hand.
The cost of operating any manufacturing facility includes the cost of energy used to create new products. Installing new robotics and automation equipment may greatly increase throughput, but may also come at an energy cost that must be included in total cost of ownership (TCO) calculations. It is important to ensure proper maintenance and sizing of motors and pumps used in the manufacturing process. Poorly maintained motors must try harder to do the same amount of work, thereby increasing the amount of electrical energy they use. Additionally, ensuring motors are properly controlled so that they are only used when needed will help keep energy costs at a minimum.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for roughly 40 percent of a typical commercial building’s energy use. Regular tune-ups and maintenance of HVAC equipment will minimize the amount of energy required to keep buildings comfortable and electronic equipment within the manufacturer’s specified operating range.
Low-cost ways to keep HVAC energy use under control include sealing the building and shielding windows with insulated drapes, foliage, or solar film coating, while leaving southern windows unblocked to allow direct winter sun.
For more money and energy savings, businesses may choose to invest in newer, more energy efficient HVAC equipment, or remodel buildings to minimize energy losses. New Internet of Things (IOT) sensing and mobile-based enterprise software systems can be retrofitted on an existing facility to help building managers remotely track and control energy use by HVAC, lighting, and water heating systems.
Any methods a business chooses for saving energy must be evaluated for TCO so that the payoff includes a boost to the bottom line, as well as protection for the environment.