Last year, my friendly neighborhood electric company called me up and offered me a free energy audit of my house. It happened to be the day after I got my electric bill, and it had been a long, hot summer, and the bill was proving out my concerns over how much the air conditioning had been running lately. So, I made an appointment.
The auditor gave me some good advice and pointed out a few simple fixes – frankly, some basic home maintenance that I was “planning to get around to eventually.” Then, he surprised me, by going out to his vehicle and bringing in a box full of stuff to make those fixes – a couple rolls of weather-stripping, a “water miser” shower head, and a whole bunch of CFL light bulbs. And it was all free.
But that wasn’t all – while he still had my full attention (free stuff has that effect on me), we sat down and went over a list of incentives they offer to folks who replace older, less efficient equipment with new, high efficiency models – refrigerators, water heaters, and HVAC units were all on that list, as you can probably imagine.
Now, on the surface, it seems like it would negatively affect a company’s bottom line to pay you for taking steps to purchase less of their product, right? Turns out, they’re being incredibly long-sighted. See, as the population increases, so does the number of energy users. Power plants can only generate a finite amount of electricity; when they reach capacity, the only solution is to build a new one. And that costs a LOT of money – more than they can make up for by rate increases (which would be inevitable anyway.) Rather than do that, they would greatly prefer to squeeze every kilowatt they can out of their existing plants, and service every household they can, as efficiently as they can. Power companies across the country are offering similar programs, and if you like free stuff too, I encourage you to seek them out if they haven’t already sought you out.
Of course, they’re not just focusing on residential customers. Increased energy usage efficiency in their industrial customer base is key to the plan as well. If you use a bunch of electric motors, there might be incentives to upgrade to higher efficiency units, and/or install Variable Frequency Drives (if applicable.) Do you have a large shop area? Odds are, it takes a lot of candlepower to light up all that space, and a lot of BTU’s going one way or the other to heat it in the winter and cool it in the summer. Lighting and HVAC are popular incentive programs as well.
EXAIR has worked with several utility companies to provide basic information regarding the savings associated with the use of engineered compressed air products, and I’m preparing another presentation in this regard right now. If you use compressed air, you probably have a good idea of the cost associated. If not, the US Department of Energy has published “Improving Compressed Air System Performance: A Sourcebook For Industry,” which I highly recommend. Additionally, your own friendly neighborhood electric company may offer some assistance, in conjunction with an incentive program. Here is a national database for energy incentives in the U.S. http://www.dsireusa.org.
Whether your concern is for your home or your business electric bill, again, I encourage you to look in to any incentive programs your utility provider may offer. And if compressed air is a factor in your equation, I welcome the opportunity to help you optimize your usage.
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