Environmental Efficiency has now completed a number of energy audits under the UK ESOS and Irish EAS schemes. The key finding is that most of the savings identified so far are either no cost or very low cost, certainly with paybacks well under 6 months. In some ways this should be a surprise as with all the attention in recent years on energy efficiency, all the low hanging energy savings should have been picked by now.

Some examples of these savings are listed below. It should be noted that these examples are not just one offs, but applied to the majority of sites audited.

  • Air compressors running at excessively high pressures. Normal industrial systems are set to run at 7 bar. During numerous audits we uncovered air compressors set to up to 10 bar no other reason than they had always been at that setting. One site immediately reduced the air pressure to 6 bar with no adverse effects. The energy saving is 33%.
  • Using V belts for power transmission. If you look under your car bonnet you won’t find V belts any more so why still use them on industrial equipment. Replacement with cogged or notched belts can give a saving of 2% to 3%. Replacement with flat (asynchronous belts) as used under your car’s bonnet will give higher savings.
  • Over cooled server rooms. The range of temperature set points for server rooms was very wide, the lowest being 16C the highest being 22C. In all cases, the equipment was similar. Raising the set point to 22C or higher will result in significant energy savings.
  • Too high a set point for space heating. Many of the sites audited had set points for space heating set at over 20C. A lower set point of, say 19C, will save energy but will allow the temperature to increase naturally from body heat and office equipment. For shop floors a lower set point is advisable.

All these savings are well documented in Carbon Trust literature so the question is why these easy savings have been overlooked. In many ways an external auditor is at an advantage as they can challenge the status quo. What needs to be developed internally is a culture where the accepted ways of doing things are challenged. For sites with Energy Management Systems or Environmental Management Systems, the internal challenging of the accepted ways of doing things can be built in. As the savings are so large, companies should develop systems to allow all aspects of energy consumption to be challenged.

Environmental Efficiency are environmental consultants in both Ireland & The UK. Contact Bob Sutcliffe at bobsut@enviro-consult.com.