Monitoring energy consumption is the key to success
At CompX Waterloo, we have cut natural gas, electricity and water consumption by roughly 50% in the last two years, and we have to give a lot of the credit to the monitoring systems we have in place. When we first started our energy conservation initiatives in December 2007, we pulled consumption information from the monthly bills for the previous two years and created charts with the information that we still use today.
September 15, 2010 By David Kroeker
Immediately we noticed that one of our two water meters was broken, and we actually received a couple of bills for $0 from the utility company. It was surprising that no alarms went off in the utilities billing department when we went from monthly bills of over $7000 to zero, but since we noticed the malfunction and reported the issue we were never charged for the water used during this period.
With help from our gas and electricity providers, we were able to have new digital meters installed which provided us with real time monitoring. For electricity use, Lorne Seip, our facilities manager, was able to track consumption. He was able determine that our peak usage was between 2PM and 3PM on any given day. We have been able to determine which processes cause spikes in electricity consumption, and we have made changes to the hours of the second shift to lower this peak demand.
With real-time monitoring for gas consumption, we were amazed to see our consumption did not decline as much as expected during a one-week summer shut down in 2008. Typically all of the gas-fired equipment such as boilers, dryers and ovens are shut off during a shut down, but thanks to real-time monitoring, we discovered three faulty regulators on the roof that were gassing off 400 – 500 cubic meters of gas per day. We also found an ongoing underground hot water leak that we have since re-piped, reconfiguring the water line above ground so that future potential leaks will not go unnoticed.
For water consumption, we have implemented a monthly water usage audit that has been quite simple to implement, with positive results being recorded. Basically the water consumption is monitored during the weekend when the plant is shut down with no systems running. During this state, the idle water consumption is calculated to determine how much water is used for an entire year if the plant remained empty. We have gone from an annual plant idle water consumption equalling close to 5000 cubic meters of water a year down to around 50 cubic meters since implementing this program. Because of our findings, we have implemented checklists and delegated responsibilities to employees to shut off valves daily and weekly to prevent unnecessary use of water. Also our maintenance department installed motion sensors and solenoids to shut off all water leading to the urinals and toilets if no one is present in the washrooms.
We have had great success with the help of our newly introduced monitoring systems and would highly recommend this to any company looking at starting their own energy management system. Remember it is just as important to consider energy consumption when the building is vacant as when it is operating at full capacity.
David Kroeker is the Environmental Supervisor for CompX Waterloo, the winner of this year’s Energy Excellence (ENEX) Award, sponsored by Fluke.
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