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11 August 2016 | Brendon Airey
Some organisations are loath to commit significant capital expenditure to energy-efficiency measures, but - says Brendon Airey, energy manager at Cloudfm - there are plenty of lower-budget opportunities that can make a significant impact. Here are six to consider
You'd be surprised how many companies don't obtain the best possible energy price from their supplier. I've seen companies on worse tariffs than my domestic rates.
The more energy a business uses, the better its negotiating power, since the contract will be worth more to the supplier. It's often the case that a fixed-term deal has expired, leaving the company on an outdated tariff - and given that there has been a massive reduction in energy prices over the past year or so, it's a particularly good time to renegotiate your energy deal. It's usually just a case of asking, too.
2 Control your lighting
Up to 60 per cent can be squeezed out of the energy consumption of a lighting system with the right controls. If it suits the application (and the available budget), there are fully automated building management systems which will 'learn' the requirements of the workforce to optimise energy savings. Even simple localised controls (such as switches and sensors) can have a significant impact, and might be the most cost-effective option.
3 Review your HVAC system
Does it need renewing with a more modern and efficient system or just better maintenance? A lot of efficiency can be lost through shoddy maintenance and poor controls. Consider whether extraction and air conditioning filters and ducting need cleaning, or whether a wet heating system needs flushing and dosing with inhibitor (an electrolytic scale inhibitor would be a savvy choice).
4 Think smart
Smart controls can also save energy (and therefore money) by tailoring the environment more closely to the required comfort levels - perhaps through a BMS that links lighting, heating and cooling to the security entry card system, so that only occupied working areas are illuminated and maintained at the designated temperature, even tailoring temperatures and light levels to individual preferences.
5 Joined-up thinking
Although this is a checklist of easy wins, the maximum benefit can be obtained by taking a more strategic approach, so that further cost savings may be made in implementation through linking projects together. If you're changing the lighting in a warehouse then at the same time you might use the scissor lift to clean the skylights and fix any leaks, which means the cost of the cherry picker may be offset against a number of jobs, rather than just the lighting upgrade.
6 Tailor your equipment
Lighting can be a very subjective matter, and what is right for one environment might not be right for another. For example, colour rendition can be very important in maximising sales of merchandise, or when working in a manufacturing facility where colour-matching is important (such as dying textiles), so price becomes secondary to the light quality, whereas in a warehouse storage environment, where workers don't spend a lot of time, price is likely to be the more pressing factor.