January 19, 2017
Quick, what’s the first incentive you can think of? It was probably for lightbulbs, right? They’re great, but there are so many other incentives, guys! Julie Andrews had silver white winters that melted into springs, and this week I’m sharing a few of my favorite incentives. Oh sorry, did you think there wasn’t a lot of overlap between the engineering and Sound of Music enthusiast communities? There is.*
Here are five incentives that I don’t see many people use but that I like a lot:
- EC Motors for Walk-In Coolers and Freezers
A lot of buildings have commercial kitchens. Actually, most of the ones I’ve walked through as an engineer have been in public school and university cafeteria kitchens. Almost all of them have either refrigerated cases or walk-in coolers and freezers. On the back of every freezer or cooler, there’s a fan that helps remove heat and keeps the inside cool or really, really cold. It’s called an evaporator fan.Most existing evaporator fans use shaded-pole (S-P) motors, which are about 25% efficient. These motors can be replaced by what are called electrically commutated (EC) motors, which are about 65% efficient. In fact, EC motors can typically save between $60 and $130 per evaporator fan per year. ComEd, Ameren, and Illinois Energy Now all offer incentives for replacing shaded pole motors with EC motors in walk-in coolers and freezers.
- Domestic Hot Water Storage Tank Insulation
Is there a big metal tank in the basement of your building that’s too hot to touch? It could be an uninsulated domestic hot water tank, and if it is, you should insulate it immediately! Storage tanks like these constantly lose heat to the ambient air in mechanical rooms, wasting energy that was just used to heat up the domestic water inside. You can save hundreds of dollars each year by adding an insulating jacket to the outside of the tank.
- Combined Heat and Power
Combined heat and power (CHP) plants work by concurrently producing electricity and heat from a single energy source. When you buy power from the grid and generate heat from a boiler or furnace in your building, the combined system efficiency is around 50% (33% efficiency at the electric power plant, and 80% efficiency generating heat on-site). Alternatively, CHP uses the waste heat from electricity generation that’s usually discarded, making the entire process more efficient. CHP plants can achieve combined system efficiencies of around 75%, depending on the type equipment that’s installed.Places like hospitals, universities, and even wastewater treatment plants (among many others) are good candidates for CHP since they almost always have a place to put the waste heat from electricity generation (space heating, hot water heating, absorption chillers, dehumidification, etc). CHP plants are a great way to improve energy reliability, too, because they can run independently from the grid in the event of a power outage.I love CHP! And now, I don’t have to deny myself. We can have CHP everyday with the incentives that are available to help offset the cost of installing your own plant at your building.
- Guest Room Energy Management
The first and only time I’ve used a guest room energy management system first-hand was in 2009 at the Park Hotel in Volos, Greece, while I was on study abroad. The hotel wasn’t great, but guest room energy management systems are.Maybe you’ve used one of these before, too. They typically work either with occupancy sensors or by putting your room key in a slot as soon you walk in the room. The key must be in the slot to turn on anything in the room that requires electricity–like the lights, TV, heating, or air conditioning. When you leave, you remove your key from the slot, and everything turns off or goes into a setback mode. This is clearly a niche measure because only a few types of commercial buildings have guest rooms, but it makes so much sense!
- High Volume, Low-Speed Fans
I just told my husband what Big Ass Fans® are last weekend in the Tampa airport, so this one feels right. High volume low speed (HVLS) fans can be used in both industrial and commercial applications. Industrial applications include buildings like warehouses, livestock and dairy barns, and airport hangars and terminals. Commercials buildings that might require them include school gymnasiums, churches, and fitness centers. HVLS fans improve ventilation and comfort by moving large volumes of air, and they can also improve occupant comfort by de-stratifying air in spaces with high ceilings. Dairy cows love them.As you might expect, these fans save energy by operating more efficiently than their high velocity counterparts. A 20-foot HVLS fan can move over 125,000 CFM of air with a 1 HP motor. It would take six high-velocity fans three times as much energy to do the same.
Bonus 6th Incentive! Escalator Motor Efficiency Controllers
Have you ever even thought of installing escalator motor efficiency controllers (MECs)? I certainly hadn’t, but ComEd offers a standard (non-custom) incentive for them. If you have constant-speed escalators in your building that don’t automatically shut off or slow down during normal business hours, you can get $20 per escalator motor horsepower to install MECs on them.
The motor efficiency controller works by adjusting motor energy consumption based on the sensed load for the escalator. Find out more about this one here; it’s tricky to find if you’re not looking for it. Maybe they’re all waiting with bated breath over at ComEd to get an escalator MEC incentive application to come in. It could be yours!
If any of these incentives have given you efficiency-project inspo, and you’d like help working through them, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll even help you with lighting incentives, I promise.
Next week I’ll try to demystify some of the incentives that I find more confusing to navigate: EMS upgrades, Packaged Rooftop Unit Advanced Controls Retrofits, and “Comprehensive Energy Savings.”
*Seriously, my engineer best friend and I love The Sound of Music so much, we went to Salzburg and took the tour.