The wood products industry has always been a leader in the wise use of our natural resources. Many opportunities for saving energy require very little investment and have good pay backs.

In this last part of our energy series we deal with how to reduce costs with regards to electric motors, compressors, saws and larger operations that may have boilers and kilns.

Electric motors

The efficient use of electricity for electric motors can help to control energy bills without compromising the motors' effectiveness. The ideas for conserving energy are technically sound; you must assess the economic feasibility for your operation.

Compressors

The most inefficient use of electrical energy is in compressing air. Further, pneumatic equipment is inefficient; for example, pneumatic conveyors are cheaper to install, but use 10 to 20 times more energy than electrical conveyors. Substantial savings can be achieved by improving the air system, including the compressors.

Machining

There are only a few opportunities for saving energy in machining, and only if the following ideas result in the ability to use a smaller motor. If the motor is not changed, there will be minimal savings.

The place to begin your energy conservation program is with a free audit from your utility company, including an analysis of your energy use patterns and your monthly electric bill. Then look for opportunities to reduce overall energy usage and the peak demand.

Here are a few general ideas, suited especially for a larger operation.

1. Consider running some operations only on weekends; you may get a lower rate on a weekend.

2. Use "homemade" energy if possible.

3. Generate a portion of electricity "in house" at peak demand time to reduce peak demand.

View Part One and Part Two of this series.

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