Monthly Archives: April 2009

Helping Reduce Energy in the Industrial and Commercial Sectors

It is relatively difficult for you, as an individual, to have a large-direct effect on the energy usage in the commercial and industrial sectors.  These sectors consist largely of corporations and businesses that you have little control over.  This does seem like a large problem at first but, there are things that you can do to suggest increased energy efficiencies.

Commercial Sector

The commercial sector consists of things like: stores, restaurants and offices.  The commercial sector is mainly concerned about reducing operating costs.  As energy costs increase, the benefits of increasing energy efficiency also increases.  Some methods commonly used to improve energy efficiencies include:

  • Using Energy Star rated devices
  • Modern, automated HVAC systems
  • Efficient lighting
  • Occupancy and/or photosensors to dim or shut off lighting
  • Solar panels to generate electricity or to heat water

Most of the items listed seem small but when implementing several small changes, you can experience a larger overall change (I feel a reoccurring theme beginning).

Many companies in the commercial sector take suggestions from their employees.  If you are employed in the commercial sector, you can make a friendly suggestion to your superiors that include ways to improve energy and/or operating efficiencies.  This can help you by:

  • Being noticed by your superiors
  • By increasing your company’s profitability, therefore allowing you to keep your job.

So, if you have any ideas on how to improve energy efficiencies in your workplace, do it.

Industrial Sector

The industrial sector consists of things like: farming, manufacturing, mining, construction and water management.  Like the commercial sector, the industrial sector is largely concerned with maximizing profits and minimizing operating costs.  Reducing energy consumption accomplishes both.  The industrial sector can improve their energy efficiencies by using the same methods as the commercial sector, in addition to:

  • Using more efficient equipment for farming, construction and mining
  • Generating electricity from waste using methane gas
  • Improving manufacturing processes to use less energy

Several equipment companies like, John Deere and CAT, continue to improve the efficiencies of their products.  This in turn reduces amount of energy used for related industries, like forestry, construction and mining. Also, farmers who raise livestock are increasingly installing anaerobic biodigesters in order to generate electricity.  Any farmer that has livestock, has manure and will always have manure, so instead of piling it up, why not use it for something useful.  These systems can give farmers a way to use a pesky byproduct to generate:

  • Electricity
  • Bedding
  • Fertilizer
  • Heating fuel

Again, as with the commercial sector, many industrial companies accept efficiency suggests from their employees.  If you make a good suggestion, then this will reduce their energy usage and therefore make them more money.  Whenever you can benefit the company you are working for, it is a good thing.  It is not only good for you but, for your company as well.

Even though most of the efficiencies gained in both the commercial and industrial sectors will come from the companies and businesses making changes, due to increased costs, you as an employee can also help with your suggestions.  We need to remember, we need to work together to reduce energy usage EVERYWHERE in our society.

I tried to list several ideas and methods used to reduce energy consumption but, I could have easily missed something.  If you have any other methods that could be used to increase energy efficiencies in your workplace, leave a comment.

Next week, I will begin to discuss methods to reduce energy consumption within the transportation sector.

Conserving energy, a crucial initiative for societies future.

It is estimated that by the year 2032 electricity demand will grow by at least 40%. The amount of energy the world will consume will increase by 57%, over the next 25 years. With data like that, one really begins to ask themselves: Where is all this energy going to come from?

Last summer before the economy really started tanking, gas prices were at record highs. The whole oil industry seemed to be stretched to its max, with very little hope of increasing production drastically. On top of paying higher amounts to fill your vehicle, we are also seeing increased electrical costs and heating costs. As we talked about in an earlier post, if energy costs rise, the cost of everything must raise.  Energy is the foundation of our society, the price of energy will always effect our lifestyles.

As the demand for energy rises, so does the price for energy. This is simple economics but, unfortunately this has the potential of having a very negative impact on our lifestyles. Why is it that America has only 4.5% of the world population but consumes more energy than any other nation? Can Americans really sustain the type of lifestyles that we have all become so accustomed to?

America has the largest economy in the world, which is a major reason why we consume so much energy.  Energy is not only fuel for you car but it is the fuel that makes our economy go.  When the economy is booming, energy usage is up and when the economy is in a slump, energy usage drops.

On the other hand, our society is based on cheap energy. All of our society’s decision makers and infrastructures use this ideology. Since this is the ideology that has been used for so long, it continues to be used by many today. For example, many communities in Michigan are looking into expanding their electricity capacity.  Instead of building more electrical plants and drilling for more oil, why don’t we start looking into more way to conserve energy?

Also, most of the United States is without a good form of public transit. Many large cities offer bus systems, which are a good, but there is typically no transit available for travel destinations that are not within a city. Most of the time we are forced to drive a vehicle in order to get to our destination. Why hasn’t the United States been building a decent public transit system? Where are our high speed trains!?!

Conserving energy is going to become increasingly important. We are looking at future were energy could be less abundant and more expensive than we have grown accustom to. Now, I know many of you might think this is a crazy notion. I mean look at the price of oil now, it hasn’t gone over $70 in months. This sudden drop in price is only due to the fact that the world economies have been tanking. If our economy picks back up, so will the cost and demand of oil.

Everyone in our society needs to stop thinking that we have an endless supply of energy and that you can use as much energy as you want. Society and its members must learn to conserve energy and conserve resources. There are several things that you can do, as an individual, to help conserve.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

If you look at chart, you will see how US energy usage is categorized. You have the ability to directly affect the amount of energy used in the transportation and residential sectors.  You also have the ability to help sway policies in the commercial and industrial sectors.

So, how can you as an individual help reduce consumption? I hope to help answer that question with a series of posts, and with some help from you, the readers.

Bookmark Energy Strain or subscribe to our Email or RSS feeds in order to see what you can do to conserve energy.

Energy Strain About Page

I just recently created and posted the “About Energy Strain” page.  This page can be found by clicking here or from the navigation bar under the Energy Strain logo.

Go ahead check out the about page and learn about myself (Zach) and Dan.

Towards the end of the week I will start my series on energy conservation.  Keep an eye out for it, I think you will enjoy it.  Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed or Email feed.  Both feed links are in the upper right-hand side of our website.

PickensPlan Reports on United States Monthly Oil Imports

It is that time again folks, T.Boone Pickens is reporting the statistics on U.S. oil imports.  Here are the numbers:

Barrels of Oil Imported by the U.S.: 386 million

% Imported from Foreign Countries: 65%

Money Sent Overseas: 18 billion

Some key points here is that we imported roughly 14% more oil this month that we did last month (339 million).  Of the oil that we consumed during the month of March, 65% of it was imported from foreign countries.  The represents a 3% increase over the total amount of oil imported when compared to February.  Now here is a big number, 18 billion.  This is the amount of oil that other countries received from the U.S. buying foreign oil.  All of these numbers can decrease if, we begin to place a large emphasis on energy conservation.  The more we conserve, the more we money we save, and the less dependent we are on oil imports.

Conservation is the key folks, we can not expect to drill enough oil to feed our habit.  I am glad to see that T.Boone Pickens continues to post this information, it is very good for people to see these numbers.  As always, feel free to check out the Monthy Oil Imports page on the PickenPlan website.

High Efficiency Google Server Design

Yesterday, Google revealed their own “home-brewed” data server design.  Google has been using this custom design since 2005, while constantly improving design efficiencies.  Google has custom designed servers in order to achieve maximum energy efficiency.  Some key aspects to this custom design include: a 12v battery built into every server and a custom made power supply that only uses 12v power rails, instead of the typical 12v/5v combination.

How much efficiency is Google really seeing with all of these improvements? Well, for example, Google has seen battery usage efficiency as high as 99.9%.  This is roughly a 4%-7% increase over using conventional centralized UPS systems.  Now this may not sound like a lot but when you have literally thousands of servers, this becomes a very big deal. Google has really displayed that they have a passion to make their company as energy efficient as possible.  Not only does Google have custom servers designed to maximize efficiency but Google continues to invest in energy through their Google.org arm as well.

Google is one of the few companies that openly and actively tries to reduce their energy consumption. Google seems to understand two very key aspects of energy:

  1. Energy is a valuable resource
  2. We need to help each other in reducing the amount of energy consumed

Now, lets not forget to mention one of the most obvious aspects to this: less energy means more profits.  Google must have an electrical bill the size of a small country so, any amount that they can reduce is a positive for them financially.  I mean, who doesn’t like making more money right.  :)

If you would like to look at some pictures or read more about this check out this CNET NEWS article.