What small businesses should think about BEFORE installing renewable energy
Posted by Andrew Warner on 2 June 2014 at 9:45 am
If you are a small business owner looking to install renewable technologies and cut your energy costs, I don’t envy you! In my work I see dozens of small business owners every month and the problems they complain about are all the same.
Technology by its very nature is complex and there are a few different ways of achieving the same thing in this industry. However, there are some basic principles you must stick to, no matter what the technology.
First things first, reduce your demand for energy – get your building energy efficient where possible, with measures such as insulation, automatic door closers, thermal / softwall curtains, high efficiency windows units and sky lights or light tubes
Many businesses I see can easily save themselves 20% of their energy costs by just doing this and the payback is a lot quicker than from installing expensive renewable technologies.
Next, get things working properly. One of the biggest culprits is heating and air conditioning controls. Get your systems cleaned and set up properly with timers, thermostatic controls, window and door sensors. You wouldn’t believe how much difference to your heating system balancing the radiators will make, yet over 90% of the businesses I have seen have never had it checked.
When it comes to lighting, no system should operate without lux sensors and occupation or proximity sensors. I've seen reductions of 40% in lighting costs through intelligent use of these inexpensive devices. Don't get excited thinking you will definitely cut your lighting bill by 40% - a lot depends on how you use your lights now and the kind of business you are - but there are definitely reductions to made in nearly all businesses.
If you spend a lot on energy and have large premises, I would seriously consider a BMS (Building Management System) which can intelligently control all of the above and give you up to date information on current / past costs and energy use, alarms and full control from your smart phone or tablet.
If you have big energy hungry machines, like industrial machinery, you should get your power factor checked. Without getting too technical, if you are paying an ‘availability charge’ to your energy company and you have industrial machinery (such as welding equipment, electric motors, high bay and fluorescent lighting) you are likely to be paying for an amount of ‘wasted’ energy running your equipment. Getting power factor correction devices installed can reduce your demand on the grid and your availability charges.
Once you have done all you can to reduce your actual demand, even if it just on paper for now, then you can see what you are left with. It is then, and only then, that you should begin to look at generation equipment.
From the blog
About the author: Andrew Warner set up Green Technologies and Solutions Ltd, to provide a vital, but lacking service, to prospective adopters of renewable energies.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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