Taming Rising Energy Costs

Are you worried about how future energy costs might affect your building and business? What can you do now to be well-positioned when energy cost increases hit?

Turbulent price swings during the 2021-2022 energy crisis continue to affect virtually every U.S. market. Commercial natural gas prices reached record highs, oil hit its highest price in 14 years, and the cost of electricity soared. And quick to follow came painfully high inflation rates, increased wholesale and retail costs, and slowed economic growth.

Taming energy costs means increasing energy efficiency. Becoming more efficient can give your business a competitive edge by lowering costs and conserving resources.

It makes sense to take a focused look at how your business uses energy. Suppose you’re in the power-hungry medical, data, industrial, or manufacturing sectors. In that case, the urgency is even more significant, but so is the opportunity to see a clear return on energy-saving investments. FICO can show you how services like power quality monitoring may help reduce power use while improving the quality of the power you do use.

Energy Costs Projected To Increase

The U.S. energy market is rapidly shifting. 24% of the U.S.’s electrical supply was produced by renewable sources in 2022, while coal-powered electricity declined to 20%. Increased global demand in the liquified natural gas market, mainly from Europe, led to significant price increases internationally while the US became the number one producer.

The US Energy and Information Administration projects that wholesale electricity prices, the buying, and selling of power between generators and resellers, will be 20% – 60% higher than average during the winter of 2022. The same group is projecting a 3.3% rise in consumer electricity on top of 7.5% higher prices than last year.

Expect to pay more for the energy you use…perhaps a lot more!

Stop Paying For Energy You Don’t Use

In a perfect situation, every bit of energy delivered to your building is appropriately used. In reality, while some degree of energy loss is standard, it’s not uncommon for larger buildings, especially industrial and manufacturing, to experience significant energy losses or waste. A 2013 report by Energy Central stated that the United States, overall, wastes 58% of all the energy we produce. This is non-recoverable energy.

Energy loss can be as obvious as equipment that’s left on but not actively used, like a conveyor belt or lights. Less obvious energy loss is undoubtedly occurring in the systems and equipment used for heating and cooling, and manufacturing. Equipment runs suboptimally, requiring more energy than it should, when electrical voltage, frequency, or waveform are off.

Stay Current: Why Replacing Older Equipment Makes Sense

Replacing your boiler may offer the single most effective path to reducing your energy bill.   Commercial boilers consume an average of 28% of all energy used in the commercial non-manufacturing sector. And historic boiler sales data shows that the majority of boilers are 30 years or older. Smaller equipment, multi-stage heating, and cooling systems, modular burners, heating or cooling by zones, and building use sensors will help you reduce energy use and increase efficiency.

Instead of automatically replacing older equipment, take the time to evaluate whether you might be best served by redesigning systems that draw a lot of power. Technological advances in HVAC, lighting and electrical systems could translate into upgrades that pay for themselves sooner than you’d expect.

Power Quality Management: Clean Power, Energy Savings, Better Performance

Hospitals, data centers, and industrial and manufacturing facilities require ‘clean’ electricity with dependable harmonics, waveform, and frequency. Incoming power can be so irregular that it damages equipment, causes brownouts or shutdowns, results in faulty data, and wastes energy.

Installing appropriate tools and devices to ‘groom’ your incoming power is called a power quality management system. When a power quality management system is in place, your sensitive equipment has the quality of power it needs to run optimally.

 A power quality management system can pay for itself in 2-4 years AND reduce energy consumption.

Prepare For Future Energy Cost Increases By Fine-Tuning Energy Consumption

Mechanical equipment and systems function better and run more efficiently when everything works as it was designed to.  Inevitably things can get out of whack — time, use, and environmental factors like humidity, dust, and dirt can cause small irregularities that add up.

FICO offers several services, such as calibration, optimization, and continuous commissioning, that can fine-tune performance to bring your valuable systems back to peak performance. Equipment that functions optimally runs more efficiently and lasts longer.

Sensors that turn power on or off offer fairly straightforward paths to energy savings. Occupancy sensors, vacancy sensors, light sensors, and smart power strips offer fast returns on lower-cost investments.

Make Every Therm and Every Kilowatt Count

If you’re going to pay for energy, it only makes sense to use every bit of it as efficiently as possible. Investing in system upgrades now can put you in the best possible position to meet future energy challenges and take the ‘bite’ out of them — and remain competitive. Choosing to make energy efficiency a priority is both smart and responsible.

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FICO provides turnkey building management and system integration services for technically complex buildings in Montana and beyond. From design and installation to ongoing maintenance and security, our best-in-class people and products help you achieve operational savings and minimize risk as you work to provide reliable and safe environments.

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