Posted by Tom Fitz
Tom Fitz
Tom utilizes over eighteen years of manufacturing experience to help companies c
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on Tuesday, 06 March 2012
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Energy Hogs of Manufacturing - Part IV

Think Before Flipping On That Switch

Thank you for continuing to read my four week blog series that uncovers the four, primary culprits of wasted energy in a typical manufacturing setting.   In my previous three blogs, I’ve dissected and offered tips to mitigate the inefficient operation of three of the four energy hogs in a typical manufacturing setting – compressed air, HVAC, and the equipment/machinery. Today, I will investigate the final element that is often overlooked because of its rather basic function – lighting.

As a generation, we have become accustomed to instinctively turning on a light fixture the moment we enter a room - whether the additional illumination is needed or not. To compound the problem, most do not turn off lights when leaving a room. This problematic behavior is one reason lighting accounts for approximately 10% of the overall energy consumed in a manufacturing facility.

Ever drive by a facility, or office complex, in the early hours of the morning that is lit up like the Vegas strip despite not having a single employee still working? This has become the norm in our society. We urgently need to alter this mindset in order to decrease the amount of energy being wasted annually. This unacceptable behavior results in the preventable release of millions upon millions of tons of GHG’s to the atmosphere, and financially is costing businesses millions of dollars in excess operating costs each year.

The following tips should be considered as viable options to help eliminate the unnecessary use of electricity for illumination in all settings from private residences to manufacturing/distribution facilities.

  • Fixtures/Lamps – Replace inefficient fixtures/lamps with those rated as highly efficient such as T5’s, CFL’s and LED’s. Not only will the amount of energy used per Watt decrease, but the bulbs typically have a longer life cycle and won’t need to be replaced as frequently. A tertiary benefit is the higher efficiency bulbs typically radiate less heat, so cooling costs will be reduced.
  • Motion Sensors – Installing motion sensors that activate the lights only when people are working in a specific room, area, etc. and turn off after a specified period of inactivity will prevent energy from being wasted.
  • Zoning – For larger buildings containing numerous light fixtures, consider wiring the system into zones. This will allow lights being turned on only in specific areas where employees are working.
  • Natural Lighting – The use of natural lighting as the primary source of illumination is a very effective option in those areas that receive ample sunlight on an annual basis. Installing windows, skylights, and solar tubes and supplementing with lighting fixtures for operation during darker, cloudy days and work during evening hours is a great way to save energy.
  • Exterior Lighting – Try eliminating exterior illumination of buildings, homes, etc. that is specifically for aesthetic purposes. For those serving a purpose (i.e.- parking lot lights, walkway lights, emergency lights, safety accent lights, etc.), ensure the fixtures & lamps used are high efficiency models.
  • Miscellaneous – With fixtures containing multiple lamps, try removing one or two to determine when an acceptable level of light is being emitted.   Use dimmer switches when applicable to control the amount of light and flow of energy to the associated bulbs. Change the wattage of the bulbs being used in the fixture.

Lighting can be a direct target for lowering energy usage and reducing annual operating costs. Focus on illuminating only where and when needed.

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