Energy Efficiency & Conservation

Posted by Lori Amerman on Apr 3, 2014 12:52:11 PM

Written by Lori Amerman, Operations CoordinatorEnergy Efficiency

Evolving Technology and Emerging Competitive Advantage

In March IMEC partnered with the Northern Illinois University Department of Technology and Kaskaskia College Center for Business and Industry to provide a presentation on best practices in Energy Efficiency.

Industrial electricity prices have risen 36% over the last 10 years.  Researching energy bills and technologies should be part of continuous improvement efforts as emerging technologies are lessening the burden of controlling future costs.

Keep track of power bills.  Transmission fees come in a separate bill.  Understanding this total cost can improve payback projections when presenting project opportunities to management.  Some companies pay a “ratchet clause” for peaks in usage.  Techniques such as staggering equipment start-ups and usage can make a significant reduction in pricing based on usage spikes.  Schedule load shifts.  Load Cycling for instance if your company has 6 air conditioning compressors, allow only 3 or 4 to turn on at the same time.

Consider posting charts of demand changes for employees with other measurable.  $/KW per month

Review Equipment.  Is there a regular maintenance schedule?  Do you keep track of efficiency ratings?  Turn air compressors down to the right psi level.  Look at the owner’s manual for the right pressure to run equipment.  Higher does not mean it will run faster, the equipment usually has a regulator.  One Bond County manufacturer in attendance reported that turning down the psi from 120 to 90 made a big savings difference.

Electric motors use over half of all U.S. electricity.  Wipe off and read the motor plates.  Reducing rotating equipment speed (flow) by 20% can reduce input power requirements by 50%.  Cogged V-Belts run cooler, add additional lifetime, and conservatively there is a 2% energy efficiency increase.  An 18o F rise over the maximum rated temperature for a motor can cut the motor lifetime in half.

Air compressors are frequently the most expensive utility in manufacturing.  A dirty filter creates a pressure drop which results in a throttling effect in the system.  Fix leaks.  A 1/16” hole costs around $2,000/year.  Do a “Sunday Test” and look for leaks when the facility is quieter.  A 3-7% savings can b realized with synthetic lubricants that reduce wear on compressors.

Underutilized Building Envelope Technologies such as cool roofs, green roofs, window films.  The Department of Energy estimates a 15% payback for tightening the building envelope.

Boilers.  Do you need hot water or steam?  There are incentives available for new steam traps.

Underutilized Water Heater Technologies such as condensers, heat pumps, tankless, solar.

Lighting is 36% of non-process electricity.  Utilizing solar tubes and technologies for parking lots for instance can provide savings.  Technology advancements in the last two years are worth investigation by companies that have previously used incentives, upgrades available.  Look into products such as dock lights with LED lighting and fluorescent lighting with emerging lighting battery backups.  Programmable start ballasts on fluorescent lights will extend the life of the lamp.

Additional resources including pre audit homework provided by Dr. Kevin Martin provided below.


Pre audit homework:

Motors and Machines

  • Are machines left running when not in operation?  If so, why?
  • Are energy efficient motors, pumps, and equipment used?
  • Are motors, pumps, and equipment sized according to their loads?
  • Do you throttle pumps and fans to control the flow rate?

Compressed Air

  • Does the compressed air system only produce the minimum pressure needed to operate the equipment?
  • Do you used compressed air to dry or move parts?


  • Is lighting focused where workers need it?
  • Is lighting controlled by motion sensors in warehouses and storage areas?
  • Do you have old lighting systems that are now producing yellow, blue, or greenish hues?

 Process and Facility Heating and Cooling

  • Are heating temperatures maintained at higher levels than necessary?
  • Do you have any type of heat recover?
  • Do employees have control over hearing and cooling in their work areas?
  • Are exterior windows and doors opened to adjust heating and cooling?

There will be an IMEC event on May 2, 2014 that will focus on assisting participants with identifying and implementing ways to reduce energy use, boost productivity, and achieve measurable energy savings. For more information on the event please click here.

Lori Amerman

Written by Lori Amerman

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