A New Year
The New Year is often a time for making resolutions. As we begin 2010 many companies will resolve to make a variety of changes necessary to move forward and grow in a lean economy. Energy management is one area where companies can assure that they are using their resources wisely. A resolution to form a relationship with an Energy Consultant, or to take full advantage of a current relationship, can improve a company's energy and financial performance.
Whether you run a city, a company or a factory, it is important to know your assets. An important asset to any of these entities is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM). A good Energy Manager will have a balanced arsenal of education and practical experience dealing with energy concerns. An Energy Manager can help guide you through ever-changing markets to ensure you are capitalizing on the latest technology, operating practices and incentive programs. At Independent Energy Consultants we have a saying that you should want to work with someone who can identify problems in your boiler room and then explain the financial solutions in your board room. If you are looking for that type of ally, please contact us to discuss your situation.
The Energy Manager profession, while always needed, tends to go in and out of favor with the ebb and flow of energy prices. One could argue that the oil embargo of the seventies was the event that gave birth to the Energy Manager profession. The profession was born out of necessity when fuel supplies became scarce and energy prices skyrocketed. During this crisis, people realized the value of a good Energy Manager, and the energy conservation movement began to take hold.
However, as so often happens, when a crisis wanes, so too do the corrective actions that it spawned. By the time the 1980's had arrived all seemed right with the energy world again. We saw the free flow of Mideast oil return, and the U.S. had just commissioned over 110 new nuclear power plants. The motto of the nuclear industry, which we wholeheartedly support, was electricity would be "too cheap to require metering". A 20-year period of ample cheap energy supplies once again left Energy Managers out in the cold - no pun intended.
As we close out the first decade of the 21st century, this is no longer the case. Energy supplies are once again being artificially constrained or manipulated and rates have changed drastically without warning or reason. With these changes in the market, and a push toward a greener economy, the energy manager is once again in high demand. In these times of economic instability, energy management cannot be ignored or viewed as a part-time job assigned to an Engineer or Facility Manager. These duties are becoming more complicated and require the attention of a trained professional. A relationship with a CEM is an investment that can save money and pay for itself many times over.
Contact Independent Energy Consultants if you would like to speak to experts about effectively sourcing energy supplies and ensuring that you use that energy efficiently.
Tools for the Trade
Just as the training for Energy Managers has improved, so too have the tools they have at their disposal. Advances in technology have produced many devices that complement the CEM's expertise and allow for new possibilities.
New equipment has enabled us to economically capture, store and analyze data that didn't exist 10 years ago. As an example, small box-like devices called data loggers can now be installed on equipment or in an environment to record information such as, energy use, illumination, temperature and moisture levels. The data can then easily and even remotely be downloaded to a PC for detailed analysis. The data provides a starting point for operational improvements and/or cost effective equipment upgrades.
Another useful tool that has come down in cost is a thermal camera. These devices allow for quick hands-on investigation in many applications. Thermal cameras can be used to spot leaks in insulation that could be sending heating funds quite literally out the window. Another use is to spot overheating in electrical panels or rotating machinery. Thermal images can also be used to capture the operating characteristics of new equipment so a baseline is available to spot changes or degradation over time. Early identification of problems can not only save you money, they might prevent a safety hazard from developing.
One last tool we'd like to mention is a combustion analyzer. This device, commonly used by CEMs, can quickly tell you how efficiently a boiler, furnace or hot water tank is operating. By measuring the exhaust gases and temperatures, the instrument can tell you how much energy is being converted into useful work and how much is being wasted. This can help spot equipment that may need repairs, adjustments or even replacement.
Devices such as these are helping Energy Managers play an ever increasing role in helping companies manage their energy dollars.