As the consumption of electricity has soared, so have electricity prices. Due to this increased demand on power grids across North America, power outages are becoming a common occurrence in many cities. As a result of the increased demand, most regions are faced with the immense expense of needing to build new power plants, finding new sources of electricity or bringing in electricity from other regions to satisfy demand. This has resulted in power authorities across North America looking at ways of reducing electricity consumption, including offering incentives to businesses to make their plants more energy efficient.
Energy reduction incentives are offered through your local electricity provider and can be very lucrative, offering as much as 50% of upgrading costs. Incentive programs have been around for years and will continue to be offered for years to come. All energy reduction projects need to be approved before the work is started. To maximize your return, speak with your local electricity provider and get your grant pre-approval in place before beginning any projects. Incentives are also available for new energy efficient constructed buildings. Incentive programs do not require a company to make their entire plant energy efficient; projects can be taken on one at a time, to minimize the financial costs of retrofitting and allowing companies to take on the projects that make the most financial sense. Here are some of the areas that most printers can look at for energy savings:
1) Lighting (up to 70% energy savings)
Most plants in North America are filled with 4’ fluorescent tubes and incandescent lighting, 80-year-old technology. The Canadian and American governments are looking to phase out these old energy technologies and replace them with energy efficient alternatives. New lighting technologies include LED, fluorescent, halogen infrared and enhanced incandescent. It is strongly recommended to consult with a lighting contractor to learn about the different lighting alternatives and see the lighting samples before making a decision. Colour looks different under various lighting, and optimizing brightness is important to all printers.
In most states and provinces incentives are offered for replacing lighting as well as lighting fixtures. Utility companies do not require an entire plant to be retrofitted all at once. The lighting project can be broken down into sections or areas, or limited to one area only. For example, a printer may choose to retrofit their plant with new lighting and leave the existing lighting in the offices.
2) Air Conditioners (20%-40% energy saving)
Air conditioners in most plants across North America are over 25 years old and tremendously energy inefficient. By replacing these old units, not only do companies save money, but they will have better functioning air conditioning units that don’t require air conditioning repair services as frequently. When looking at a new air conditioner the most important consideration for incentive programs is the Energy Efficient Rating (EER). The more energy efficient a new air conditioner is the greater the incentive for purchasing the new unit(s).
Air conditioning incentives are offered on each individual unit purchased. While most projects need to be pre-approved in order to qualify for the incentive, there is an emergency replacement incentive program in most regions. The emergency incentive program works as follows. If your company has had to replace an air conditioner because of a breakdown they have 90 days to contact their local electricity utility provider to apply for the rebate retroactively.
3) Compressors and Printing Presses (10%-40% energy savings)
Most regions offer incentives for energy audits. An energy audit involves contracting an Engineer to test the energy efficiency in various areas of your plant to see if there are any potential areas for energy savings. Two common areas in plants for energy savings are compressors and printing presses with typical energy savings of 10%-40%. In certain applications a variable frequency drive (VFD) can be used for the compressor or printing press to control both the speed and torque of the motor. Since VFDs provide a continuous range of speed control, they can greatly improve a system’s overall efficiency.
Incentive programs are always changing. To find out more about energy audits and potential savings contact your local electrical utility to set up a meeting with one of their energy consultants who will be able to assist you with all of the incentives programs currently available.