Compressor Survey

As I mentioned in my last post, I am trying to reduce the energy usage at work by looking at the process equipment.  The first piece(s) of equipment to fall under the spotlight was the compressor.  Although maintenance did not want to change any of the settings they did arrange for someone from the Company who installed and services the compressors to come in and talk to me about them (although maintenance were conspicuously absent from the meeting).

The outcome of the meeting was that we had a set of dataloggers installed to look at the air usage over a week.  From that we received a report detailing the loads during the week, the cost of generating the air, the annual cost of the air, and a number of recommendations for saving energy and money.  It is hoped that when faced with the hard data, then maintenance and management would decide that changes needed to be made.

The first of the recommendations was to use only one compressor, not only would this save us electricity costs in excess of £1000 per year, but would also save £250 a year in servicing costs.  This might not have been an economically viable option if it wasn’t for the fact that the pipework is already in place  and all we have to do it turn a valve on.  So, from this, another question arises – why do we have a separate compressor?  The second plant was installed in 2001, 15 years after the first plant – why not use the same compressor?  There is no one in the Company that can answer this question – so, as maintenance cannot think of a good reason not to do this, the valve will be opened and both plants monitored to check that there is no problem.  The specification of the main compressor and the air requirements of the main plant are such that it can easily provide enough air for both plants.  Money saved.

Second recommendation?  You’ve guessed it, turn the pressure down – apparently a one bar reduction in pressure will save £185 per year.  You might think that this is not much of a saving, but at 10p per kWh, it is equivalent to 1 tonne of CO2e per year, and it is all waste.  I was a little disappointed that the survey could not tell me what my minimum operating pressure is, but as far as I can tell, as long as I keep above 6bar, then the second plant will be fine, and if I do reduce the pressure below the minimum for the main plant then it will just stop – which is not a disaster, we just turn the pressure back up and start it up again – as long as it is in a controlled way no damage will be done.

Recommendation three was something I am not sure about – there is the possibility of recovering the heat generated by the compressor and using it to heat the warehouse.  However, the figures were based on the cost of electrical heating, gas is about 20% of the cost of electricity at the moment, and we do not want heat all year round.  This suggestion is parked for now.

The final suggestion is to conduct a leak survey.  Whilst we do check for leaks on a weekly basis, this is only done by listening for any leaks.  It is possible that this is missed, and, if we are using the connecting pipework across the warehouse to power both plants it may be more worthwhile (expected cost £350).  However, what is making me think that this could be worthwhile is that the survey showed the air usage graphically for the week.  There were a couple of days where the main plant was shut down, and the air usage, whilst low, was not zero.  Whilst there may be something that is kept under pressure when the plant is off, in which case maybe we can lock it off, it may be because of leaks in the system.  I have estimated that if this was the case, then the cost of these leaks is £300 per annum.

So, I have the data, and although it cost £200 to get the survey done, we should be able to save up to £1500 a year for no outlay at all and we can have the changes made by the start of the CRCEE.

Daventry Environment Business Network

In many ways I feel lucky to live in Daventry, although there are probably a lot of people who think I must have received a severe blow to the head to come out with such a statement.  However, I do feel that in terms of the environment the District Council is trying quite hard to engage both households and business (after all, they were the first council to reach government targets for recycling years before the deadline).  One of the things that they are trying to do to engage local businesses is run the Environment Business Network (EBN).  It meets at different businesses four times a year, with a different theme each time.  It allows the opportunity to meet others and have a round table discussion of issues, successes, problems etc, and also allows a look round the different businesses – something that you would not usually do.  What I have found really useful is the discovery that there are other people at different stages of their environmental voyage – without the EBN it is easy to think that you are ploughing a lone furrow.  I have found a whole host of help and resources through participation in the EBN – if someone can’t help you directly they can often send you to someone that can.

Today’s breakfast meeting was at DHL Mothercare – a huge warehousing facility on the DIRFT (Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal) estate.  The theme of the day was waste minimisation.  After introductions there was a talk by someone from DHL outlining their efforts so far at waste reduction, followed by a waste quiz by RUR3.   Before we left we had a tour around the site.

So, what did I learn.  Firstly, in common with other businesses, DHL had a lot of obvious cost reductions that they could make.  The first was lighting which has helped them to halve their electricity bill.  It was a combination of power reduction (replacing the horrid metal halide hi bay lighting with strips) and controllability (wiring lights to individual controls and adding in sensors).  I must say, it was a huge warehouse with an incredibly high roof, and it did not appear to be badly lit at all (although it was daytime, it was not exactly Springlike weather today).  They have also reduced their water spend by going for waterless urinals (there is apparently a very good report comparing systems which I would like to get a copy of) and are busy reducing their waste to landfill.  They compact both plastic and cardboard and get paid for both – I will be investigating cardboard balers in the next 6 months as we are currently paying to have it taken away – although we don’t deal in such large amounts of waste, I think we should at least get it taken away for free.

Following the waste quiz (did you know that if every person in an office used one less staple each day then we would save 72 tonnes of metal?) it was noticeable how many people have problems getting rid of small amounts of waste such as cardboard and pallets.  It would appear that the council does not have the facilities for this, but perhaps it should put a forum on its website so companys can get together and have joint collections – I think I will suggest it.

The tour of the warehouse was interesting even if it was only to show the sheer scale of the warehousing business – and this is only one of the many massive warehouses on the DIRFT site.  What I noticed most was the amount of packaging that they had to recycle – and this is just a distribution warehouse – they do not make anything (I guess most is imported) although they do deal with returns.  There was, literally, tonnes of the stuff, over 900 tonnes of cardboard every year if I remember correctly.  The other thing that sprang to mind as we walked around the warehouse was the amount of plastic ‘stuff’ that was around.  There were all sorts of imported (probably) plastic (definitely) things – toys, baby accessories, all sorts of stuff.  Whilst it is all very well business recycling packaging, using reusable packaging (usually plastic), reducing packaging, surely it would be better (for the environment if not the economy) if consumers changed their habits and reduced their requirements for stuff and its attendant packaging.

Path of Resistance

Over the last few months the requirement to reduce our energy consumption at work has increased in the build up to the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme that launches on April 1st.  Whilst I am trying to co-ordinate all the efforts of the group, I am also very aware that as the largest site in the group, I need to try to ensure that we are also making a concerted effort to improve efficiency.

For a bit of background, we are a site that operates 24/7, with two plants running most of the time, depending on customer demand – both do a slightly different job with, in the main, different customers, and are completely different in their mode of operation.  One of these plants and associated peripherals and warehousing space etc is responsible for about 70% of the electricity consumption on site.

Whilst we have started to tackle the lights (more about this in a later post), I think we also need to start looking at the processing equipment itself.  We have had a couple of surveys conducted on site, including one by the Carbon Trust, and both have mentioned the operating pressure of the two compressors that we have.  (We actually have three, but the third is kept as a spare.)  This is where the resistance has started. We have a maintenance team of four, and, unfortunately they have not bought in to the idea of using the CRCEE as a way of making any changes that they would like, and I think this is because they are too comfortable and don’t like the idea of change – I may be doing them a disservice, but I have yet to see any real evidence.

OK, now for a bit more background whilst I explain the issues at hand – sorry if you don’t find compressors overly exciting, feel free to skip to the conclusion.  The compressors are of different types and are both operating all the time (although not on load).  One is a variable speed drive (VSD) compressor which changes its power consumption to match the load, the other is either on or off load.  The VSD compressor has apparently been specified to run both plants if necessary and the pipework is in place to allow us to do that.  This compressor also has a fairly large receiver tank to store the compressed air and smooth out the load.  The compressor kicks in when the pressure in the tank is below 7.5 bar and turns off at 8.5bar (this will become relevant as my story progresses).

So, first question, is the compressor operating in the most efficient way?

Mainenance – it was the most efficient compressor we could get at the time – the suppliers said so.

Me – but, is it running in the most efficient way?  Is it set at the right pressure?

Maintenance – it has always been at that pressure since it was installed.  It is a variable speed drive compressor and the most efficient available at the time.

Me (there is a pattern here) – but can we change the settings so it is operating more efficiently?

Maintenance – it turns off when it hits 9bar and only comes on when it is at 6bar (see, I told you it was relevant).

Herein lies my perennial problem – not only do I not get the answers to the question I asked, but when I do get an answer there is no guarantee that it is the correct answer.  So, my question is, how much time do I spend trying to convince the maintenance team that this is a really good thing, that they don’t have a choice in the long run, that running production equipment inefficiently really is a waste of money and resources, and that they might actually enjoy having some projects out of the ordinary to work on instead of the routine stuff.  The alternative is to go ahead and arrange for some of these things to happen and get them annoyed with me – something I am not afraid to do, but it is hardly conducive to future co-operation, although it would mean we do save energy sooner rather than later.

With regards to the compressor – I have found a solution which I shall tell you about in my next post.

Disclaimer – I am not claiming that all maintenance departments are this obstructive, we have other maintenance personnel within the Company that are leading the way, but I bet there is someone like this in most companies.  Have you encountered similar problems, how did you deal with them?

Crikey – The Carbon Reduction Energy Efficiency Scheme is nearly upon us.

So, if you work in a Company that consumes a large amount of power you have probably heard the initials CRC banded about, and know that the start date of the government’s latest attempt at reducing electricity consumption is almost here (1st April).

I work for just such a company, and am part of a steering committee tasked with ensuring that we are compliant and that we are taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint.  However, this is not an easy thing to coordinate without having someone dedicated to ensure that it happens and we could be doing it better.  I thought that I would write a few blog posts to record the things that work well and the areas in which we can improve.  Whilst I am not sure anyone in the Corporate world would approve of such altruistic actions, as it could affect our league position, we could also improve by learning from our own mistakes.

So, firstly what is the CRCEE (as it is now called) scheme.  Well, if you don’t know by now, it is perhaps a little late – but it is not always disseminated down to those who can really make a difference  i.e. those who can turn the lights off and run the equipment that uses the electricity.  I prepared a couple of posters for the start of the Switch Off campaign so that everyone might have an idea of what it is all about and why energy efficiency has suddenly become a buzzword.  You can download them here if you like – CARBON REDUCTION COMMITMENT ENERGY EFFICIENCY SCHEME_EM.  Even those who have heard about it seem to be confused, so I have included a brief outline of timelines.

The scheme is part of the Climate Change Act (CCA) and is aimed at large consumers of electricity that are not already subject to the CCA or part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (therefore not electricity suppliers).  It will work on the allocation of carbon credits – so polluters pay, but is supposed to be non-revenue generating and therefore not a tax, those saving the most money will get the most money back.  However, as with all things these days, there is a lot of paperwork to be completed (think of the trees) and it therefore pays to be organised and set up some systems for data capture in advance – something I am working on at the moment.

The government has made a few changes, and so it is always a good idea to check the website out for the latest guidance.  Unfotunately, it has been mired in confusion for the past year, the forms weren’t sent out on time, there was a worry about finding the cash up front for two years’ worth of credits, some companies wanted recognition for their early efforts to reduce energy usage (otherwise companies were holding off any changes whilst waiting for the appropriate year in order to improve their league table position), and others didn’t seem to have a clue – mainly government departments from what I can gather from the web discussions.  So, in response, there is now no longer the requirement to buy two years’ worth of credits – only one is required and an early action league table.   (Unfortunately the only way to do well on this is to gain the Carbon Trust Standard  – which takes a year and involves at least two years of energy efficiency improvements, and to install automatic metering.) There is now more discussion on the internet about CRCEE and also, a lot more  companies willing to take your money to ‘help’ you improve your energy usage.

The first actions in the scheme involve collation of all the necessary data, then, the fun begins and, hopefully, energy efficiency takes centre stage.

Going forward I will outline the things we have tried at work with regards to improving our energy efficiency – some are the so-called low hanging fruit, some will involve a little more thought, some will require capital investment and all will need a great deal of persuasion from those both above and below me within the Company.

Switch Off Campaign

A decision was made at Head Office that a switch off campaign sounded like a good idea, so we (the Carbon Reduction steering committee) were told to organise one in our respective division. So, that will be easy then. After some debate as to what constituted a switch off campaign with a leading light thinking that it would involve lots of surveys and the appointment of green champions to look for energy saving opportunities, I finally got them to see sense and realise that it was just what it said on the tin:  a campaign to raise awareness and get everyone switching things off when they were not in use.  Back to the real world and the rush of the every day job kicked in and I did not really think about the switch off campaign.

A month later a reminder came out with a start date of 4th January. OK, so now I have a deadline, but still no guidance. So, what to do?  I could email the Site Managers and tell them to organize a switch off campaign – that would work! I turned once more to my trusty friend Google and found a couple of bits of information, mainly from local councils who had jointly run just such a scheme and used these as the starting point for my ideas.

The first thing I did was make an action plan for the actual campaign which was to be over a two week period:

  • Energy measurements to be taken at the same time each week for two weeks before, during and after the campaign.
  • Site Managers to brief all of the staff about the campaign
  • Site Managers to conduct a walk around the site during the campaign and provide positive and negative feedback to staff
  • Staff to be encouraged to submit energy saving ideas

etc, etc.  The action plan was emailed out to the Site Managers a couple of weeks before the start to give them a little advance warning.  I have found that each of the seven sites we have is very different in size and culture, and so, one size does not necessarily fit all, so the Site Managers were the best people to decide how to get local buy-in.

Next on my list was to create some advertising material, something that would remind staff about the campaign and why they should be turning things off.  So, back to Mr Google for some more helpful hints and tips, followed by a trip to an online stock photo site for some appropriate pictures (yes, I know that one of my other passions is photography, but I was in a hurry and did not have the appropriate props).  A couple of late nights later and I had a series of posters for display at the sites detailing environmental facts and energy saving tips.  You can view them here:

SWITCH IT OFF

If you would like to use them please feel free to download – just let me know – it is always interesting to see where others are in their quest for energy efficiency as well as being good for the ego.

OK, so now I needed a bribe for the energy saving ideas bit.  I settled on the promise of a tree planted in the name of the person with the best idea or a box of chocolates – should appeal to a lot of people I thought.

The campaign ran with mixed success, I will outline the reasons for this, along with the results, in my next post.

Lighting in Daventry.

A while ago (as outlined in Lighting – do we have too much?) I started to look at the amount of lighting on our Daventry site.  For various reasons it has taken some time to make any meaningful changes, but at last we are beginning to make some progress.

Surprising discovery number one – we had no light switches for a quarter of our warehouse – even when no one was around we had to leave 3kW of lights on.  Whilst this is only for a small proportion of the year it is still waste.  The lights were controlled by a photocell, unfortunately somewhere along the line a Health & Safety survey had declared that the lighting was insufficient and, instead of changing the levels the detectors were covered up.  This meant that other than tripping the circuit breakers, the lights could not be switched off; even on the brightest of days.

The first step was therefore to sort this ridiculous state of affairs out.  We have now installed some new photocells which can be changed remotely if the initial levels are incorrectly set.  The payback time on this is less than 12 months even if the light is only bright enough to switch them off for 4 hours each day.  The only fly in this ointment is that H&S police have again determined that the light levels initially set were incorrect, and, rather than resetting to the correct levels, they have been turned to permanently on!  A task for the next week will be to sort this problem out.

Other areas have been identified where lights are left on for no reason.  Despite being only a few fluorescent tubes (relatively small in number compared to the aforementioned warehouse) they still represent substantial savings.   The first of these areas was the Plant room – visited only by maintenance staff, and therefore it should have been better controlled.  Unfortunately, unless you are in the room you can’t tell whether the lights have been left on; it was estimated that there were about 158 hours of extra lighting each week in this area.

The second area is a small office in the middle of the warehouse that has no permanent occupant and is subsequently visited by various members of staff, none of whom appears to be capable of turning the light off when they leave.  This 200W of lighting is left on unnecessarily for about 144 hours every week.  The answer to both of these has been the addition of PIRs (Passive Infra Red detectors) – motion detectors.  I think that you can get too carried away with motion detectors and see them as the answer to everything, but in some cases, for example when there are lots of different occupants using a room, only some whom will regularly turn the light off, they can be beneficial.  Both of these projects had estimated payback times of less than 12 months.

The final change that has been made has been a no cost solution and is the most obvious. A member of the maintenance team was asked to survey the lighting of the entire site and, in addition to the number, type and power of the lights, estimate hours of use and the amount of wastage.  As a consequence it occurred to him that one of the areas was visited for approximately 1 hour per week but that all three of the 70W tubes were on permanently.  He was usually the only one to visit the room and has now promised to turn the lights off when the room is not in use, a saving of 1800kWh per year.

Other areas have been singled out as needing a motion detector – these include the toilets, the tea room and the locker room, but I am having less success in getting these fitted – it is starting to become a bit of a mission!

I have now started to look at the rest of the sites within the business unit as part of the requirements for our participation in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme (CRCEE) and have learnt more about lighting than I ever expected.  Details to follow..

Baby Steps

Today is Blog Action Day, the theme this year is Climate Change, influenced no doubt by the upcoming Copenhagen summit.  These days it is hard to go through an entire day without finding a reference to Climate Change or Energy Saving, the Energy Saving Trust even has an annoying advert on the television.  I am not sure how much all of the reminders and the small snippets that appear on the news will make a difference.  I think there are two major problems; firstly people get bored with hearing about how we are all doomed, there is often the feeling that there are enough things to think about in life as it is, why worry about climate change when there is nothing we can do about it anyway?  It is everyone else that is causing the problem, besides, the worst will happen elsewhere in the world, and probably not in my lifetime.

Then we come to the second problem: what can you do about it that will make a difference?  There is so much information out there, some of it conflicting, that it can be difficult to know where to start and who to believe, no matter which level you are at in terms of ‘green-ness’ it can be confusing.  It is probably easier to not bother yet, better wait until more information is out there, until the ‘experts’ make their minds up.

The problem is, time is ticking and we all have a responsibility, why waste resources when it is just as easy not to, why waste money just because it is too much effort to turn a light out when leaving a room?  If you can make the changes at home then take these good and virtuous habits to work – your example can make a difference, I have seen it happen.

So what practical changes can you make?  How long have you got?  Everything you use, whether it is energy, water, fuel, food, resources such as paper, they are all, to some extent, finite, we can’t replace them all at the same rate that we are using them, and the planet cannot absorb all of our activities as they currently stand.

Firstly, energy.  Turn lights off, don’t leave things on standby, only leave your mobile etc plugged in for as long as it takes to charge (you’d be amazed at how many people leave them in overnight – they don’t stop drawing power because the battery is fully charged), turn your computer and monitor off when you leave work.  One of the best things you can do is to buy an energy monitor – they will help you find where energy is being wasted.  Want to think bigger – try switching energy supplier to one that uses renewables – they may not be the complete answer to our problem at the moment, but the more that is invested the bigger the improvements that will be made in the technology.

Water – old fact, but, 9 litres of water for every flush if you don’t have a dual flush toilet, put a bottle of water in the cistern to reduce the level down, save water and money at the same time.  Fit a water butt to your drainpipe to use for garden watering – they may look a bit unsightly, but, lets face it, so do satellite dishes, but most of us find somewhere to put one.  Don’t leave a sprinkler on your garden for hours – grass is hardy stuff, that’s why it is used for lawns, it doesn’t need constant watering and nobody else notices how green your lawn is!

Fuel – School run- why are there so many people dropping their children off?  Can’t they walk, I worry more about people being run over by someone on the school run than about other dangers facing children today.  How about just walking to work once a week for a change.  I would suggest public transport, but in Daventry, unless you are willing to set off 24 hours in advance it is a little pointless.  Planes – I love planes, I think they are a fantastic feat of engineering – but they are used too much and deliver their pollution to just the wrong place.  I can’t go on one again, maybe you can, but just one return transatlantic trip would double our household carbon footprint for the year (in terms of gas, electricity and transport) – I don’t think it is worth it.

Food – one of my major worries.  Why buy food only to throw it away?  There is a lot of talk in the press about food security and can Britain feed itself.  We probably can’t, we probably shouldn’t, our national income increased when we started trading with the world; there are some things that can be done better elsewhere.  But there are things we are good at growing, and, if we stopped throwing so much away we could grow all the staples that we need.  After all, the Romans didn’t invade us all those years ago because they were fed up of living somewhere dry and sunny!

Resources – whether it is paper in the office, packaging on our food, why is there so much that we are throwing away?  Admittedly the levels of recycling have grown massively, and Daventry District Council should be applauded for its household recycling (although, if you are a business, tough, you have to sort that out yourself), but wouldn’t it be better to just use less.  Does your broccoli really need a bag to make sure it gets home safely, does your Easter Egg need so much cardboard and plastic that your child could live in it?  I don’t think so.

So, what has this to do with Baby Steps?  If we all make a small change, one step at a time it will make a difference.  Then, if we make the next step, and the next step who knows what kind of change we can make?  There are so many resources out there if you need help.  If, as recently reported, the onset of power shortages has been put back by 3 -5 years because of the recession, an unintentional change in our habits, what can we do if we really try?

Conducting an Internal Energy Audit.

I decided that following on from the surveys conducted by external agencies, I should start doing regular audits / walkrounds of the site. The aim is to find ways of saving energy and money as well as checking the general housekeeping of the site. I had downloaded some guides from the Carbon Trust website, but, as with so many things in life, never got round to reading them. I had a browse through them today, but found nothing profound and so came up with the following plan:

1. Divide the warehouse into 5 main areas; main office, warehouses, plant control rooms, other occupied areas (such as tea room, other offices, maintenance workshop) and the outside. ( I will freely admit, I left the outside for another week as it was raining.)

2. Look at lighting, heating or cooling, appliances and good or bad practices.

3. Create a sheet for each area with sections for comments and observations of things for further investigation. I will see how these work out and change them if I feel the need.

OK, nothing earth shattering there, but the Carbon Trust didn’t have any better ideas. I am going to try to do a walk round at different times (today was lunchtime) including weekends, and obviously, at different times of the year.

So, the survey. I have been round the site quite a few times in the last 10 years, so was not sure I would find many unexpected things. Unfortunately, as expected the main issues I found were all down to employees’ inability to switch anything off!

Every light within a 10 mile radius of the plant seemed to be on (OK, slight exaggeration, I had turned my office light off) – in fact I only found a couple of areas where the lights weren’t a-blazin’. How many people were working in the plant rooms – zero. In fact, in one of the areas someone from the maintenance team suggested motion detectors to control the lights because they were incapable of turning them off!

In terms of heating and cooling, I wasn’t expecting too many issues as the temperature was mild but only in the low 20s outside. So I found one large portable cooling unit left on whilst everyone was on lunch, a fan going in the plant room which no one occupies unless they are doing maintenance and, almost as worryingly, the air conditioning on in the conference room – I don’t think there had been any meetings in there for at least a week!

Appliances – no surprises here. It seems as though each indivdual had their own radio – I came across at least 7 and only two of them were near anyone who was working. Other than the radios, there were computers not in use that were left on, and torches left on charge.

So, nothing major that I could find on a quick survey, and, nothing, that couldn’t be changed, it justs needs some employee engagement, timers and power down adapters for docking stations (oh, and some motion detectors and a big stick!).

I do have a number of other things that I need to understand better such as water purifiers and compressors which are on all the time, whether we need them or not, as well as the health and safety implications of adding in motion detectors in parts of the building. My next step though is to quantify the potential savings and relate them to profits – after all, £25 a year wasted by leaving a photocopier on doesn’t sound like much does it?

Lighting – do we have too much?

As mentioned in a recent article, we have had a couple of surveys conducted on the site, and both immediately singled out lighting as an area where we can cut our expenditure / consumption.  This is an obvious place to look really as we are a large warehouse with a lot of lights. 

As a brief intro, we essentially have 5 warehouse areas built over the last 20 years or so, of different heights, lit by fluorescent tubes for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; such is our working pattern.  In addition, we have a few office areas that are, in the main, occupied only during office hours. 

Whilst I will admit there is plenty we can do to cut our lighting bill, I think those auditing the site are under the impression that it is a bigger problem than the data actually suggests. The Carbon Trust report estimated that lighting accounted for 27% of our electricity consumption, and this is what I have discovered to date.

  1. We have over 500 tubes of varying sizes on site.
  2. If a room lit by fluorescent tubes is unoccupied for more than 9 minutes it is more energy efficient to turn the light off.
  3. Getting people into the habit of turning off lights when leaving a room is difficult, but not impossible – I deem this a work in progress.
  4. Two of our warehouses which were built in the last 10 years were fitted with daylight sensors – these warehouses have higher roofs and are generally lighter.
  5. These sensors are in an unsuitable place, and in failing to control the lighting acceptably they have been covered up.
  6. There are no light switches for these warehouses; the lights are on all day, every day.
  7. Indoor lighting is responsible for approximately 11% of our consumption, with outdoor lighting on a sensor and adding about another 0.5-1%.

As stated at the beginning, there are measures we can take, but at only 11% of consumption, they will have a limited effect. I will update you with the results of these efforts at reducing our lighting bill in a later post.

Energy Management – Where does it go and what does it do?

In order to better manage our energy we first need the data to establish our base load; I need to know where the energy is being used.  As a site that uses a substantial amount of energy we pay for our data to be collected every half hour (HHD). Have I been able to get hold of our data?  Yes, but it took me tens of emails, lots of ‘phone calls and three months.  As it stands I am only receiving it monthly, rather than weekly, but it is a starting point.

So, now what?  The data is provided in Excel format and I have been provided with some simple graphing software via the Carbon Trust to illustrate the changes in consumption on an hourly or half hourly basis.  However, I am sure that this is something that I could have done for myself given the data, probably using Excel.

We operate continually with only the occasional shutdown, so finding the base load wasn’t as easy as one would think.  However, I have now estimated that when the site is unoccupied it is still consuming in the region of 860kWh per day.  This is approximately 30% of our total consumption  – at a notional cost of 10p per kWh this would equate to more than £30,000 per year.  Whilst we are only closed for a few days a year, and so not all of this is necessarily wastage, at the moment I have only discovered where 72kWh is used.

My next mission is to discover what is eating the rest of the electricity, whether it is necessary, and to try to pinpoint the costs in the various operations on site.