News and analysis on the global poultry
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on August 30, 2009

20 ways to reduce energy costs

Little changes can add up to big savings as Feed Management takes a look at reducing energy costs.

Rising energy costs continue to cause angst for feed mill operators and others in the feed business. From electrical and heating use to fuel for fleets, the price tag for energy is immense. With such a large percentage of operating costs allocated to energy use, it's no wonder the task of reducing energy use can seem daunting.

While big changes can have big impact, they can also be difficult to implement and sometimes have other repercussions that make it difficult to realize anticipated cost savings. Often overlooked are the small changes that when combined can have a noticeable impact on your bottom line and reduce energy usage.

With the 20 tips below, Feed Management takes a look at how businesses can reduce energy use. Not every tip is appropriate for every segment of the feed business, but most facilities can benefit from one or more of the following practices:

  1. Consider turning off office machines and other equipment that you don't run very frequently.  You may have to wait longer for it to be ready when you do use it, but the savings will make it worth it.
  2. Clean the dust and dirt off of light fixtures. Up to $1 or more in lost illumination per fixture per month can be saved with periodic cleaning of dusty bulbs and fixtures.
  3. As part of your regular maintenance schedule, check your facility's caulking and weather-stripping. These simple tasks can actually save a substantial amount on your heating and cooling bills.
  4. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescents where possible and you can reduce lighting costs by 75 percent.
  5. Keep safety the first priority, but remove unnecessary lamps or bulbs.
  6. Installing lighting controls is one of the most efficient means of decreasing facility operating expenses. Install motion detectors in frequently unoccupied areas such as bathrooms, copy rooms and warehouses.
  7. In exit sign lights, replace the incandescent lamps with fluorescents to lower your energy costs. New, easy-to-install, inexpensive retrofits make it simple to convert exit lights.
  8. Be sure all roof areas are insulated to the recommended levels. A ceiling or roof with too little insulation could be wasting your energy dollars, both winter and summer.
  9. Keep all heating and cooling systems professionally tuned up to save on operating costs and extend the life of the system.
  10. Keep fleets in top performance, including minor maintenance, for maximum fuel mileage.
  11. Replace any equipment that has reached the end of its service life with higher efficiency equipment.
  12. Ask your utility for an energy audit to help identify ways to reduce energy use.
  13. Turn off advertising lights on vending machines; this can save up to $100 a year.
  14. Buy energy-efficient photocopiers and fax machines. These models use half the energy of regular machines and offer a corresponding cost savings.
  15. Implement a comprehensive facility energy program. Keep score on your energy use, emission and waste. Establish a commitment from the CEO or COO to develop a corporate energy plan and designate an overall energy manager who will have responsibility for comprehensive energy improvements and will set specific targets.
  16. Explore reducing energy through increased use of the internet. As an extremely effective communication tool, the Internet has the potential to help save energy in a variety of ways. An internet-based, energy-management system can provide more precise control of energy use throughout a plant or office. Such a system may be especially useful for multi-site manufacturers seeking to consolidate energy procurement across several states or regions. Transportation energy also may be saved by using the internet for video conferencing.
  17. Enter and exit quickly. Every time an exterior door opens, a large amount of heat escapes, and cold air replaces it. Open outside doors as little as possible, and when you do, do so quickly.
  18. Open freight doors only when needed. When trucks are actively being loaded or unloaded, leave the doors open. As soon as the job is done, close the doors to conserve energy.
  19. Besides reducing emissions, fuel cell forklifts have potential to effectively lower total logistics cost since they require minimal refilling and significantly less maintenance than electric forklifts, whose batteries must be periodically charged, refilled with water, and replaced. Due to the frequent starting and stopping during use, electric forklifts also experience numerous interruptions in current input and output. Fuel cells ensure constant power delivery and performance, eliminating the reduction in voltage output that occurs as batteries discharge.
  20. Consider a geothermal heat exchange system. In the winter, pumps can draw heat from groundwater to help warm buildings. In the summer, the process will work in reverse, pumping excess heat into the bedrock beneath the tower. Such a system can cut energy use in half.
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