With energy efficiency on the minds of most facility managers, those seeking to go green and cut utility costs too often overlook the lowest hanging fruit: HVAC and lighting.
Industrial manufacturers of all stripes fight the same tired, costly battles on that front. High ceilings, open spaces and inefficient light fixtures – common features in so many manufacturing spaces – can push gas and electric use to exorbitant levels. However, using cheaply made floor fans or dimming a bunch of fixtures to save some coin won’t work either – employees must be comfortable, safe and productive, which can be a substantial challenge for cost- and carbon-conscious managers.
Finding a middle ground between energy use and employee comfort can be as simple as hanging a ceiling fan. Big Ass Fans provide plenty of air movement for large industrial spaces and provide year-round energy savings, as well as employee comfort.
Lighting accounts for up to 41 percent of a business’s energy use. Upgrading to Big Ass Light™ LEDs from incandescent, metal halide or fluorescent bulbs can drastically reduce costs.
Facility managers put off by the sheer scope of such projects should seek a company like Big Ass Solutions that can coordinate every step of a fan and light retrofit – including energy-savings estimates, custom layouts, sales, installation and after-sale service – with little to no effort or interruption on the part of the business.
Fans aren’t just for summer cooling; many industrial users of Big Ass Fans see their biggest energy savings in colder months.
Hot air pumped into buildings during cold months is typically around 5 percent lighter than the outside air. Because heat rises, temperatures at floor-level are drastically lower than those near the ceiling, a problem made worse in facilities with higher ceilings, poor insulation and constantly opening bay doors.
Meanwhile, heating systems expend tremendous amounts of energy to try to overcome this process, known as thermal stratification. Hot air typically has to “stack” from the ceiling downward until the desired temperature is finally reached at floor level, triggering the thermostat to shut off the heater.
Big Ass Fans push warm air – which too often collects uselessly near high ceilings – to floor level, keeping employees comfortable and productive. These fans can also reduce utility costs by minimizing heater run time or allowing the thermostat set point to stay at a lower temperature.
Example: AMSOIL Inc. needed air destratification in the worst way. During frigid winter months, temperatures at ground-level in the 450,000-sq-ft metal facility were up to 30°F colder than at the ceiling. Not only were employees shivering while they worked, but the company was wasting money pouring heated air into a space that had no effective means of getting that air where it was needed most. To eliminate waste and more evenly heat the space, AMSOIL Inc. installed six 24-ft (7.31-m) and two 14-ft (4.26-m) Big Ass Fans. The fans push hot air down and significantly reduce the temperature differential between ceiling and floor – from 30°F to about 1°F. The company’s gas consumption fell by 35 percent.
To effectively destratify the air in spaces as large as the common manufacturing facility, however, the fans must be large enough to move an immense amount of air throughout open spaces and around obstructions, such as shelving and equipment. A single large fan spinning typically uses much less power than the multiple pedestal or high-speed ceiling fans employees and managers often use for comfort.
In many instances, lighting is similarly problematic. Installing cheap metal halide and fluorescent fixtures may save on upfront costs, but these types of fixtures use more energy than Big Ass Light™ LEDs and require more maintenance over the long term. Metal halide and fluorescent bulbs can also generate unwanted heat that exacerbates the aforementioned comfort problems.
Each inefficient light adds up – literally – to unnecessarily high energy bills for a huge number of manufacturers. Many facilities still rely on metal halide or fluorescent fixtures to light their spaces, often from heights that make lighting consistency and coverage a tough task. This means not only using more fixtures in the first place, but facing high rates of replacement for bulbs and ballasts.
Example: After facing lighting struggles, Atlas Machine & Supply in Louisville, Kentucky, replaced its standard fluorescent fixtures with bright, energy-saving LEDs. The new fixtures from Big Ass Light™ doubled, and in some cases tripled, light levels in different areas of the 86,000-sq-ft (26,213-sq-m) warehouse while using 20 percent less energy than their old fluorescent counterparts. LEDs’ effectiveness lies in their ability to distribute light more pointedly than traditional bulbs. Simply put, the light goes where it’s supposed to. No matter the size of the building or the work being done inside, that kind of precision is essential. In Atlas’ case, employees no longer had trouble reading technical documents, as they had under the dim fluorescents.
The energy use of LEDs varies by brightness and manufacturer. On average, LEDs use about 50 percent less power than metal halides, and 5 to 10 percent less power than fluorescents.
Every manufacturing space is different, so every layout of fans and lights should be customized for maximum effectiveness. When considering an upgrade to fans, lights or both, seek out companies like Big Ass Solutions that offer the following:
Industrial spaces have to use a lot of energy to get their work done, but they don’t have to waste it. The energy-conscious manufacturer can utilize Big Ass Fans and Big Ass Light™ LED light fixtures to keep comfort and productivity up while keeping energy costs down.