Large U.S. manufacturing firms stand to save millions of dollars this year in total energy and maintenance costs by carrying out the recommendations made in Energy Savings Assessments of their plants. That number could soar into the billions as more plants assess their energy use and make the kind of energy- and cost-saving improvements recommended by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Saving Teams.

 

The volatility of natural gas supplies and prices has sparked serious concerns among U.S. manufacturers about their ability to maintain competitiveness, productivity and profitability. To help uncover ways to stabilize their energy costs, 200 of the nation's largest, most energy-intensive manufacturing facilities are on tap to receive DOE Energy Savings Assessments (ESAs) as part of Save Energy Now, the industrial component of a national campaign, "Easy Ways to Save Energy," launched by Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman in October 2005.

 

The 200 ESAs are just one part of a strategy to help industry remain competitive through improved energy management. Small and medium-sized plants may also be eligible to receive no-cost assessments through DOE's university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). DOE also offers training, software, and other tools to help all plants looking for ways to improve their energy use and their bottom line.

 

The savings resulting from implementing the recommendations made in plant energy assessments can be substantial. For example, a large food processing firm, J.R. Simplot Company, reported saving nearly $300,000 per year in energy costs by improving just one plant's steam system after an assessment (PDF 638 KB). Download Adobe Reader. When companies apply similar cost-saving measures to industrial systems in other plants, the savings can multiply quickly.

 

ESAs Target Large Plants

The 200 industrial plants selected for ESAs in 2006 consume about 15 percent of all the natural gas used in the U.S. manufacturing sector. This is equivalent to the amount of energy consumed by some 14 million typical U.S. homes that use natural gas for heating and other needs.

 

The intent of ESAs is to help these plants find ways to start saving energy and money now, primarily in their industrial process heating and steam systems. The first 36 ESAs identified more than $95 million per year in total potential energy cost savings. If the plants carry out the recommendations made in these assessments, they could help to reduce U.S. natural gas consumption by more than 11 trillion Btu per year. They will also benefit from the enhanced productivity and greater system reliability associated with making energy-saving improvements.

 

The potential savings from ESAs will soar as assessments continue this year. See the Save Energy Now results page to keep track of the latest results, assessment summaries, and recommended actions for saving energy and money.

 

IACs Assist Small to Medium-Sized Plants

The IACs, housed at 26 universities around the nation, are also taking an active role by conducting in-plant assessments for companies in their regions. The IACs offer no-cost assessments at eligible small and medium-sized manufacturing plants.

In an IAC assessment, engineering faculty members and students from a participating university in the region conduct a plant assessment and recommend ways to improve the plant's efficiency. These assessments have identified an average of about $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturing plant assessed.

 

Training and Tools Can Benefit Any Plant

Whether or not you are taking part in an ESA or IAC assessment this year, you can still take advantage of many other DOE resources. These include BestPractices training to improve your knowledge of compressed air, motor-driven, process heating, and pumping system management.

 

Training can help you get the most out of the free software tools DOE has developed to help plants assess energy savings opportunities. Plant managers and engineers can learn how to make the tools part of an integrated approach to energy management in their facilities.

 

You can also consult a DOE Qualified Specialist, an industry professional with advanced training in one or more of the software tools who brings valuable expertise and experience to the assessment process.

 

In addition to training and software tools, DOE offers numerous other resources to help you start saving, such as technical sourcebooks, tip sheets, technical briefs, and case studies. The new Save Energy Now CD brings together many of these resources and information from DOE's BestPractices and the Industrial Technologies Program portfolio. The CD is tailored to help industry plant managers and engineers save on energy costs, emphasizing reductions in natural gas consumption.

 

With all of these resources, your plant is well on its way to finding opportunities that can save money and energy today. Get started by visiting the Save Energy Now Web site. And for more quick tips on saving energy, visit DOE's 20 Ways to Save Energy Now Web page for industry plant managers and engineers. You can also access the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Information Center online or call 877-337-3463.