3 areas to save on energy costs in the warehouse
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Warehouses are no longer just storage spaces meant for holding goods. Smart warehouses today have evolved into centers of sophisticated operations, and the energy requirements of these huge spaces have consequently gone up.
Heating and lighting costs combine to make up 64 percent of the energy costs of warehouses in the United States. With energy prices inexorably creeping north over time, it makes sense that warehouse owners and operators be aware of what they can do to save on energy costs.
Here are three areas that warehouses can examine to increase energy efficiency, cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint.
The use of natural light and task lighting is one way to bring down lighting costs. Solar light tubes, made from highly reflective material, can be used to direct daylight into the warehouse. Adding these tubes does not affect the structural integrity of the warehouse.
Painting walls white for improved reflection and installing skylights are other ideas. Task lights — located where illumination is required — lower energy consumption and save money when compared with area-wide overhead lighting.
The University of Illinois' Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) suggests occupancy and vacancy sensors, and bi-level switching are tips for energy conservation suggested by These sensors are best used with fluorescent lighting as against metal halide lamps because of the almost instant response time of the former. Super T8 linear fluorescent fixtures require less energy when compared to metal halide lamps and offer a quicker return on investment.
HVAC systems should be sized for the heating and cooling loads required. Large destratification fans, along with HVAC, can help regulate temperatures in the winter months. These push the lighter warm air down and help raise the temperatures to a comfortable level.
Clean HVAC filters regularly for improved efficiency. HVACs should be combined with programmable thermostats so different zones within a warehouse can be heated or cooled to the temperatures desired and for the required length of time. Also, electric forklifts do not place the same demands on the ventilation system as diesel forklifts do, and therefore keep HVAC costs down.
Variable speed drives for pumps, fans, HVAC and cooling towers offer an opportunity to control energy expenditure. These drives synchronize motor speeds to the load present and can bring down power used by motors by up to 50 percent.
Warehouses can also earn rebates from utility companies for reducing the demand during peak-load hours.
With temperature-controlled warehouses, air exchange with the outside air during loading and unloading can lead to a spike in energy requirements. Gaps in door seals, if any, should be plugged. If you are building a new warehouse, consider dock shelters as a more energy-efficient alternative to roll-up dock doors.
Warehouse insulation is an investment that pays dividends in the long run. Sprayed foam insulation is two times as efficient as traditional batt insulation. Loose foam is another alternative. Proper roof and wall installation can help warehouses save up to 40 percent of the heating and cooling costs.
Cooling loads for refrigerated settings can be lowered with using cool roofs. These roofs exhibit the properties of high solar reflectance and thermal emittance, thereby helping to keep the inside temperatures low. They can boost energy efficiency by up to 10 percent.
However, cool roofs work well only during the summer season. They are best utilized in areas where winters are mild.
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