Spotting leaks in most types of equipment is typically easy: fluid can be seen pooling on the ground or accumulating on other components. When it comes to power usage, however, many companies may not think in terms of the potential for a ‘leak,’ causing them to throw away money on needlessly wasted power without realizing it.

Part of the challenge is that power leakages often have multiple causes, and correcting them entails more than patching a hole in a pipe. Companies looking to become more proactive about power leaks should focus on three keys areas: performing regular energy audits, implementing power-saving equipment, and establishing employee protocols for limiting power use. With the right preventive maintenance software, these objectives will be easy to achieve.

+Performing regular energy audits

When assessing power use, it’s important to establish a solid baseline for comparison. Gathering power bills for the past year or two and crunching numbers to obtain averages and peak use data is a good start.

Next, use your preventive maintenance software to schedule power metering for individual pieces of equipment. Electricity usage monitors are generally inexpensive, and a company only needs to purchase a few, as checks can be performed progressively over a week or two rather than all at once.

Temperature monitoring is another way to determine whether a machine is wasting too much energy in the form of heat. Regular inspections are important as they will yield data that can be used to establish baselines and compare against manufacturer standards.

Looking over outstanding work orders in your preventive maintenance software is another quick way to see which equipment may be functioning inefficiently. Machines that are malfunctioning typically still draw the same amount of power, which means two important things: the same amount of power is being used to produce less/reduced quality output, and excess energy in malfunctioning systems may be transferred to other components in the form of vibration or friction, which can exacerbate and multiply problems.

Fine-tuned tests can also be performed with power quality analyzers to identify voltage anomalies, AC current, harmonics, and other measures of power quality. These are helpful to identify additional problems that can add to energy costs over time.

+Implement power-saving equipment

When looking to replace equipment, it’s a good idea to check for Energy Star® certified equipment that uses less power. Because Energy Star® stickers have become a familiar sight on common appliances, it may be easy to overlook their potential to save on energy costs.

Idle power use is another major area of waste for companies—estimates suggest that reducing standby power use could reduce overall energy bills by 5-10%. One simple step companies can take is to plug devices into a power strip that can be turned off when not in use. Many devices, such as computers, draw power even when they’re in ‘sleep mode,’ so it’s important to be sure that power is completely shut off when they are not in use.

Timers, usage meters, and occupation sensors can also be installed to automatically shut off power, or reduce it, when equipment isn’t in use. A common example of this would be motion sensors in facilities that turn off lights when a room is no longer occupied. Using the information you gathered while performing your energy audit will make it easier to identify areas where these measures will have the greatest impact.

In general, power usage is an important consideration to make when purchasing or renting equipment, as additional features or functionality may add substantially to the equipment’s true cost.  This is particularly true of used or older equipment that may have been built before energy use became a common concern.

+Establish employee protocols

Ultimately, the energy savings measures discussed to this point will have a much greater impact if employees are conscientious and take necessary steps to use equipment efficiently. Installing power strips, for instance, will do no good if employees do not develop the habit of shutting them off when they are no longer in use.

Implementing energy savings protocols and checks using your preventive maintenance software is a quick, effective and reliable way to ensure that they become a part of your company’s everyday processes. Using these checks and preventive maintenance fixes as a backbone, companies can add incentives, post reminders, and emphasize the importance of energy savings regularly in meetings to firmly cement these practices.

Be sure to check back here regularly for all the latest maintenance tips, news and insights from ManagerPlus.

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ManagerPlus is the preferred solution across the most asset-intensive industries, including Fortune 500 companies, to improve reliability and minimize downtime.
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