With the increase in online shopping and deliveries, especially over the past year, many warehouses are working overtime. Even with an increased workload, it’s important that warehouse owners and operators take the time to identify energy-efficiency opportunities. When you do, your employees and your bottom line will benefit.
At the heart of every business is its employees. And building a culture around energy efficiency is a great way to get your employees more engaged and give them some accountability for improving your bottom line.
Create your own team of energy-efficiency champions and get your employees involved in finding energy-savings opportunities, such as identifying areas of the warehouse that are drafty, or finding ways to reduce lighting or identifying machinery that may need upgrading. And when you do make upgrades to more energy-efficient equipment, remember to ensure employees have the right training to get the most out of it.
Investing in a dedicated energy manager is also a great way to build energy management into your warehouse operations. Energy managers can be responsible for assessing and controlling systems, monitoring energy costs, organizing maintenance checks and meeting with staff to discuss energy-efficiency opportunities. Energy managers should also be at the table when key business decisions are made, to help identify areas for process improvement and to ensure that energy usage factors into decision-making with the ultimate objective of lowering your energy costs.
Sparking conversations about energy efficiency is important, but so is upgrading equipment where necessary. Incentives from Save on Energy’s Retrofit program can help reduce upfront costs and shorten the payback period on certain upgrades.
Here are some of the top ways warehouses can save energy – and improve their day-to-day operations.
Upgrade from metal halide lights to more energy-efficient LEDs. LED lighting lasts longer, which saves on maintenance costs over time and is also brighter, which often makes for a more pleasant working environment. The longer the required operating hours for your business, the quicker the payback on your investment.
Along with replacing the bulbs, consider investing in occupancy sensors that will automatically turn on and off based on motion detection – occupancy sensors will save you the most in spaces or areas that are not in use 24/7. Vacancy sensors are also a good option. They require manual operation to turn on, but turn off after a period of time has elapsed without motion in the room. Sensors are an excellent option for saving energy while ensuring your warehouse is well lit and safe.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC):
Effectively controlling your HVAC is an excellent way to keep your employees comfortable and lower your energy bills.
Traditionally, many warehouses use air heating systems to heat and control their air temperature, but low-intensity radiant heaters can be more cost-effective and energy efficient to use, particularly in spaces where doors are frequently open. If you’re looking to save on heating, consider swapping your air heating system for radiant tube heaters, a popular choice for total building heat.
To help reduce roof heat loss and increase comfort at floor level, you can install destratification fans, which are specifically designed to reduce hot and cold spots by mixing air in industrial spaces.
You should also make sure your heating and cooling units are working in unison. HVAC systems are often set up separately with independent thermostats, meaning adjacent areas could be cooling while other areas are heating. Wireless thermostat systems can help you tie these systems together to ensure temperatures are adjusted appropriately.
If your warehouse uses refrigeration, you may have opportunities to save energy. When looking at upgrading your refrigeration units, ensure they have appropriate insulation. Consider using variable frequency drives and high-efficiency motors or compressor and evaporator fans as well. These will help you save energy and reduce equipment maintenance costs.
Even if you’re only planning to make small changes, know that implementing them on a daily basis can make a big impact on your energy costs over time.
For example, de-lamping where lighting power density is higher than needed (ensure you consider safety when doing so), air sealing your doors and structure, and unplugging and turning off appliances and machinery when not in use, are all great ways to get started on your energy-efficiency journey.