Start Now for Big Energy Savings in 2018 – Part 2 (Low Hanging Fruit)

Sep 13, 2019

In Part 1 of “Start Now for Big Energy Savings in 2018” we talked about understanding your energy bills, tracking use and cost, and having some form of accountability for what your company is trying to accomplish in regards to your energy saving goals for the year. These are great things to understand and implement so you can start building your sustainable energy savings program but the really fun is saving the energy and thus saving money.

In this article, I want to help you see some quick hits you can do in your organization that are easy – Low Hanging Fruit. These are actions that are ripe for the picking and will build some momentum in your energy saving quest.


Energy Waste

Sometimes we can make saving energy too complicated when some of the first steps we need to take is eliminating unnecessary energy use whether gas or electric. By definition, energy waste is energy that serves no purpose. Inefficiency is not what I’m talking about here. We will discuss that at a different time. This is energy that needs to be turned off because it is not helping the business in any way. Here is what I would do first to get Energy Waste under control:

  • Determine Your Daily Schedules – know your open hours, closed hours (minimal energy use), house-keeping hours, shoulder periods (pre-opening), the number of shifts you have and on what days. This will help you get a better picture of what might be expected in terms of power use.
  • Develop a Load Profile – if you can, get an hourly usage profile (interval data) from your meter(s) either through your utility or other source and compare it with your daily schedules. Have your team assess the peak usages and minimums to see if they correspond with the activities in your business.
  • Complete a Night Audit – do an assessment at your location(s) in the middle of the night to determine what is still ON that needs to be OFF. Even if you’re running 24/7 there are probably things that could be OFF in the night that are not.

Have your team take a week or two to put this information together so that nothing is missed. The idea is for employees to start asking the question, “Should this be on right now?”. You’ll be amazed at the savings that can come from eliminating energy waste. It’s a continuous process and should be a permanent part of a companies best practices.


Replace Old Lighting Systems

Lighting consumes approximately 20% of all the electricity in the United States. This is significant and can be a great area to focus your efforts when looking for low hanging energy fruit. There are three main types of lighting from the most inefficient to the most efficient: incandescent, fluorescent, and LED (light emitting diode). Replacing incandescent lamps with fluorescent ones can save you over 60% in energy. Replacing incandescent lamps with LEDs can save you up to 90% in energy use. There are many factors that go into lighting a space that you’ll want to take into consideration when replacing them: such as the life of the lamp, cost, color rendition, and more. Here are steps to take to move to more efficient lighting systems:

  • Do a Lighting Audit – have an expert in lighting catalog your lamp and fixture assets so that you’ll know what you have and calculations can be made to determine the payback on renovating to newer technology.
  • Move to Group Re-lamping – spot replacement of lamps can be an expensive way to keep everybody in the light so consider moving to this more efficient way of keeping your light level high. If you know the average life of your lamps then you’ll be able to determine when an optimum time would be to replace them all at once, saving time and money. You’ll also be able to upgrade to the newest technology if available and reap the financial rewards.
  • Install Lighting Controls – sometimes expecting people to manually turn off lights isn’t enough so you install lighting controls. This can be a game changer if associates are trained in how they work and proper maintenance is done on the system. Keep this as simple as possible. Getting too fancy can cost a lot of money and in the end will require significant oversight.

Required Maintenance

If you’re going to let your systems run until they fail then your just throwing money out of the window. One of the best energy “low hanging fruit” strategies is to make sure you’re performing required maintenance on all your equipment. From boiler systems to HVAC systems, doing the required maintenance will insure that these systems operate at peak performance. Not doing the required maintenance on your equipment can potentially cost you an extra 2-10% on your power bills. This all depends on the type of business you have and the duty-cycle (frequency of operations) of these systems.

I hope this has given you a chance to think about the “fruit” you can pick and the money you can save by doing so. Excelling in sustainable energy management starts by doing the basic things well and consistently…there is no silver bullet.

If you would like to discuss please call me, Michael Culver, at (214) 336-3954 or email me at

Culver Energy Consulting is a registered firm with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) providing power purchasing and energy management solutions for businesses.

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