Tips and Tools for Energy Savings

Tips and Tools for Energy Savings

Engineers and electricians can use this information to log and reduce equipment energy consumption, and then quantify the savings to justify improvements to managers.

By Gilbert A. McCoy, PE, Energy Systems Engineer, Washington State University Energy Program, on behalf of Fluke Corp.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provides two tools to help industrial plant users, utility staff, consultants and equipment distributors to estimate annual energy savings at a “typical” facility. One tool is the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) database, which contains results from more than 16,000 energy assessments. This database allows users to identify both the annual average electrical energy use by plant type and potential energy use reduction.

The second energy savings estimation approach is the online Plant Energy Profiler software tool, also known as “Quick PEP” or “ePEP”. Users must provide only annual energy use and cost data. Quick PEP then attempts to provide more detailed or “targeted” information as it allows the user to provide a breakout of energy use by operating process or system in a given plant. Based upon level of prior efficiency work, the software tool assigns a “High,” “Medium” or “Low” potential for additional savings, and then provides a report showing potential savings for each plant production process.

Many documents exist that provide energy use data at the industrial sector level or that specify industry-specific efficiency measures and approaches, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star Buildings and Plants program; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Industrial Energy Analysis program's Sector Assessments; and the United Kingdom's Carbon Trust. We examine these how these tools can help you.

IAC Assessment Database

The DOE has long supported the IAC program. Under this program, engineering school faculty and upper-class and graduate students perform no-cost energy assessments at small and mid-sized industries. The plants selected are from the manufacturing sector with:

  • Gross annual sales below $100 million.
  • Fewer than 500 employees at a plant site.
  • Annual energy bills more than US$100,000 but less than US$2.5 million.

The IAC teams conduct a one or two-day site visit to examine utility bills and document annual purchased fuel, energy, demand and power factor penalty costs. The team then examines potential energy savings opportunities and prepares a report with recommendations along with estimates of total installed costs, annual savings, and simple paybacks for required investments in improved performance equipment.

The public has access to almost all assessment results, with only the plant name and contact person information being restricted. A User's Manual for the database also is available.

Using NAICS Classification Index for Industry Data

Industrial plant data is categorized by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code numbers, now replaced by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS is an industrial classification system that groups firms into industries based on the similarity of their production processes. The NAICS structure employs 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6-digit descriptors that allow for detailed industrial plant categorization, such as:

> Industry Group 1113 is Fruit and Tree Nut Farming

> Industry Sub-Group 11131 Orange Groves

This structure allows users to “drill down” to obtain ever-more detailed information. An activity summary is available at each level of the database. To view an activity summary for a particular industry type, access the online NAICS Code list.

A sample list is shown in Figure 1. This list indicates that 244 assessments have been conducted at “Wood Products Manufacturing” plants (NAICS 321). Clicking on the 321xxx indicates that 70 of these assessments have been conducted at sawmills (NAICS 3211) with 517 energy efficiency recommendations made (see Figure 2).

“Top Ten” Efficiency Measure Recommendations List

Navigating to the Top Ten Energy Recommendations icon on the NAICS site allows the database user to identify the top 10 (or top 20, 30, 40 or 50) energy savings recommendations identified for the plants that were assessed within the selected NAICS code. The IAC Top Ten search box allows for measures to be listed in descending order of times recommended, implementation rate, or by average savings.

Figure 1. This sample list of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) shows how firms are grouped into industries based on the similarity of their production processes. Users can access data about energy use in specific industries. [Click to Enlarge]

Quick Plant Energy Profiler Software Tool

The Quick Plant Energy Profiler (Quick PEP) is described as an excellent first step toward improving energy efficiency. Quick PEP is designed to help plant staff understand how their plant is using energy and what they can do to begin saving.

Quick PEP is designed to be completed within an hour and, after annual electrical energy, production and fuel consumption data have been entered, establishes an energy use baseline, profiles how energy is being used in a plant, identifies typical energy efficiency upgrades and cost-saving areas of opportunity, and calculates annual carbon dioxide emissions. Quick PEP helps plant staff to launch an energy management program by focusing on the plant systems that likely offer the greatest energy savings.

Figure 2. In the NAICS database, clicking on the 321xxx shown in Figure 1, for example, indicates that 70 of these assessments have been conducted at sawmills (NAICS 3211) with 517 energy efficiency recommendations made. [Click to Enlarge]

Quick PEP can be accessed at the Tools and Resources listing. Alternatively, the software tool can be downloaded to your desktop. A Quick PEP tutorial can be downloaded at

Quick PEP is designed to be an “Attention Grabber.” Its purpose is to provide an estimate for plant management of the potential benefits associated with establishing an energy management team and designing an energy management plan. While quality of the output is based upon accuracy of the input values, Quick PEPs visual appeal can be effective in convincing management that energy efficiency activities can provide considerable energy and economic benefits

More Information Sources

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long examined energy usage, emissions, and expected future energy-consumption trends within selected manufacturing sectors. A good overview of their methodology is provided in Energy Trends in Selected Manufacturing Sectors: Opportunities and Challenges for Environmentally Preferable Energy Outcome.

Energy Star provides tools for benchmarking and tracking facility energy performance as well as energy performance indicators. Industry-specific resources for various industry types are listed on the Energy Star Buildings and Plants website.

Another useful source is the Industrial Energy Analysis page for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.


Fluke Corp. is a participating Encompass™ Product Partner in the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™. Based in Everett, Washington, Fluke Corp. manufactures, distributes and services electronic test tools.


The Journal From Rockwell Automation and Our PartnerNetwork™ is published by Putman Media, Inc.

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