On this blog, we have looked at ways to improve the efficiency of warehouses.
With the push towards the peak period of the year, readers complained about the solutions being expensive to implement. Yes, we agree that carrying out a building audit and creating new skylights and roof vents can be expensive and cause downtime.
This week, we’ll talk about cheaper ways to cut and manage energy costs.
With the spate of power station fires in 2014 alone (three so far), energy analysts say the long term impact of the fire on the UK’s power supply could be “significant” if the damage takes some time to repair.
Understanding how your electricity is charged will help you manage your costs better. There are two components taken into consideration when computing your bill viz. the Consumption and Demand components:
- The consumption section of the bill is based on the amount of electricity in kWh that the building consumes during a month.
- The demand portion is the peak demand in kilowatts (kW) occurring within the month, or, for some utilities, during the past year. Demand charges vary and can range from £ 2 to £ 15 per kilowatt-month. As energy costs can form a large portion of your bill, care should be taken to reduce peak demand whenever possible.
Lights constitute the largest portion of the previously mentioned bill, except in winter when heating takes over. In specialist warehouses that need refrigeration, during hot summer days, it’s also important to consider the effect that space cooling has on peak demand. Refrigeration now becomes the primary driver of peak demand.
Regardless of warehouse type, taking appropriate energy-efficiency measures will lower consumption and monthly peak demand charges.
The following are our quick and cheap ways to fix energy inefficiency:
1. Engage Employees.
Train your staff to be always thinking about energy. It may sound odd, but people actually start caring about their impact on the environment and energy efficiency once they have been trained. Instead of being an abstract concept, now that they understand how much things cost to run and how they can contribute to reducing costs.
2. Simply Turning Off Equipment.
This is highly underrated as an energy saving method. Yet this is the first thing an auditor will check and recommend. A walk through the facilities after hours will show the sheer scale of power being wasted when nobody is there. From lights burning in offices in London to carousels in Wigan running all night, most of the equipment that is left on overnight in an empty building is simply not needed.
3. Computers And Office Equipment.
The glory days of paper, ledgers and ink have paved way for our Mac computers, laser jet printers and wireless handheld scanners. As important as these are, they do not need to be turned on all night, when not in use. There is usually a central computer that monitors and records all telemetric data. Your firm may also have a backup; but there is no need for every monitor on every desk to remain turned on all through the night, when not in use. Lets put this in context, the average computer, monitor, and shared printer together draw roughly 120 watts. If left on overnight and on weekends, one workstation can add £1,040 or more to your annual energy bill.
4. Controlling Air Intake.
We know you are not Storm from the X-Men and thus can’t control the weather, but using the vents in your roof strategically can help you control the temperature. Many warehouses have rooftop units for heating, ventilation, and sometimes cooling. Some also have exhaust fans that bring in outside air for ventilation. This allows you to quickly cool a busy warehouse n a hot summers day or close them to warm up a winter’s night shift. These should be set to only run when the spaces are actually in use.
5. Performing Regular Maintenance.
This will keep your equipment in good working order and save energy too. Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation, cooling, refrigeration systems (including changing filters regularly) is important for optimal operation and to avoid wasting energy.
6. Closing Doors Properly.
In refrigerated warehouses, one major source of energy loss is air infiltration through gaps around doors on the loading dock and into refrigerated spaces. Regular checking and repairing of tears in door seals will help to maintain a balanced energy use profile. Another simple method is to make sure employees keep the doors closed at all times.
There are many ways to reduce energy expenditure if we all take a little responsibility. Turning off equipment when not in use, may seem basic and even mundane, but employees only show an increased propensity to do so, AFTER they have been trained. You can implement expensive solutions or start with more basic ones; the end goal is optimal productivity while maintaining a reduced energy bill and carbon footprint.