Posted by Tom Fitz
Tom Fitz
Tom utilizes over eighteen years of manufacturing experience to help companies c
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on Tuesday, 21 February 2012
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Energy Hogs of Manufacturing - Part II

HVAC – A Costly Luxury

My blog last week focused on one of the top energy users in a manufacturing environment – compressed air.  This week I will focus my attention on a utility that gives compressed air a run for its money in respect to the amount of energy used and wasted during its operation – HVAC

We all recognize HVAC is needed in most climates to condition the ambient air in a facility thus providing a comfortable working environment for those within.  Certain temperatures are also required by some raw materials to ensure they don’t degrade or change their structure.  Of equal importance, stored finished goods require conditioned space to guarantee their claimed shelf lives and protect active ingredient functionality. 

Buildings cripple HVAC efficiency

HVAC systems tend to be inefficient due to the design, operation and maintenance of the buildings in which they condition, and not just because of the systems themselves.  Despite ongoing advancements to improve efficiencies of HVAC systems, many companies are wasting energy because they fail to assess their facilities. 

Quick Tips to improve HVAC efficiency

Try a few of these tips, and reduce your operating costs by maximizing the operation of your HVAC systems. 

  • Raising/lowering set points – It is estimated that approximately 3% less energy is used per degree of heating/cooling used.  Instead of maintaining a set temperature of 68o in the summer months, try operating in 72o and reap the financial rewards associated with the energy savings.  Try the converse during the cold, winter months.
  • Install fans – Hot air rises and cold air sinks.  By installing industrial fans, like those manufactured by "Big Ass Fans", air can be circulated to ensure air temperature is uniform throughout the conditioned space.
  • Run time – Only have the system in operation during work hours.  Power off the HVAC when not needed.  There are relatively inexpensive automated timers available that easily affix to most systems that can be programmed for automatic shutdown control.  An alternative would be integrating system controls into plant control or building management systems.
  • Recover heat from utilities – Many companies have looked to recover heat from other plant utilities (i.e.- boilers) to supplement their heating systems.
  • Zoned heating/ AC – Similar to a household, dividing a facility into HVAC zones will allow air to be tempered only in the spaces that require conditioned space.  Different set points can then be established based on the needs for that area.
  • Eliminate leaks – Ensure all doors, windows, roll-ups are properly sealed to prevent precious tempered air from escaping and/or outside air from permeating inside. 
  • White roofs/ light colored paint – Dark colors attract light.  Absorbed heat eventually transfers through the exterior walls and heats up internal temperatures.  Reduce the amount of light, and ultimately heat, your facility absorbs by lightening the color of the roof and exterior walls. 
  • Tinted windows – Adding window tinting will eliminate the amount of heat absorbed and transferred through windows.
  • Maintenance - Routine servicing of the entire system will not only maximize efficiencies, but prolong the life.  Change in-take air filters, patch any leaks in ducting, clean supply and return vents to optimize system performance.

Many other steps can be taken with the ultimate goal being to improve overall system efficiencies.  Remember, each percentage point of efficiency gained equates to money being saved and reducing your company’s GHG footprint!