Reducing your energy usage - Take the 6 Steps

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Courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

Energy experts predict that electric rates will increase 20-30% after rate caps expire in the PECO (2011) and PPL (2010) territories. In one scenario, PECO stated that electric rates (after rate cap terminations) will be based current usage and demand. So, now is the time to start thinking of how you can reduce your facility’s energy consumption.

Things You Can Do to Prepare

1. Benchmark your facility:

Find out how your facility compares with other similar facilities and determine where you stand with the Energy Star ranking. This can be self-performed using the EPA’s Energy Star website. In most cases, if your facility uses more than $2.00/SF of energy costs, then you are a candidate for energy savings! Older buildings, those that use fuel oil or electricity for heating, or incandescent lighting are the best candidates for the next steps.

2. Become aware and understand the charges your utility bills:

• Are they accurate?
• Are you paying taxes when you are exempt?
• What’s your demand charge vs. usage?
• Can you shift electricity usage to other time periods?
• How does your facility compare with other similar facilities?

In most cases, this can be done by consulting firms on a contingency basis.

3. Audit your facility to identify wasteful or inefficient equipment:

Retain an energy audit firm to review your specific facilities equipment and recommend energy savings opportunities that could reduce your current power demand and consumption. They should recommend projects with simple payback periods that could help you decide to implement. Several state and federal organizations will audit a facility for free to eligible parties. Another alternative is to take advantage of auditing firms that offer a Shared Savings Plan. Shared Savings is a method to offset the upfront cost of an energy audit and project implementation by paying for this cost using money saved on your utility bills for a specified period of time. This could mean no capital investment for your company.

In some instances you can realize up to 5 to 10% energy savings by simply doing differently but require management and employee commitment to implement.

4. Implement energy savings projects:

Once the energy audit identifies energy savings projects that pass your financial metrics, it’s important to implement the equipment replacements properly. Specifying the equipment, bidding and retaining contractors and overseeing the installation are all necessary if you want the project to meet its projected energy savings.

5. Research grants, low-cost loans or other funding sources for energy efficient equipment upgrades:

Currently, there are grants and low-interest loans available from the government and utilities that will help finance your energy savings projects, if you qualify. Research the available funding and take advantage of it as much as you can. Your competition is doing it!

6. Verify energy savings achieved as a result of project implementation.

Once your energy savings projects are implemented, have the auditing firm or a third party engineering firm verify that your energy bills have been reduced to what was projected. If savings do not meet the projected, then investigate as to why.

How to go about it

Most facility owners or managers simply don’t have the time to commit to the process. One option is to hire a full time energy manager. As an alternative, consider retaining an experienced energy management firm on an outsourced basis to assist you through the process.

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