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"Low Hanging Fruit" Efficiency Choices

Every week we receive a lot of information on energy efficiency solutions and updates about what the government is doing about climate change. Earlier this week we attended the 18th annual luncheon of the Manufacturers Council of the Central Valley, a group based in Modesto, CA which represents the interests of local manufacturers.

The Keynote speaker, Dorene D'Adamo, a member of the California Air Resource Board, discussed climate change, California's emission reduction goals, and strategies aimed to help meet the state's emission reductions by 2020. One thing mentioned that struck a common chord among others in our industry was the idea of "low hanging fruit" - remedies that are currently being developed and utilized that make a notable difference in reaching energy efficiency and emission goals.

This concept was also recently expressed to us by Sid Abma of Sidel Systems. Sid mentioned that the easiest and most highly promoted action we, as a society, do to help curb greenhouse gas emissions are on the side of electricity reduction and conservation. This includes changing light bulbs, insulating our attics, double panning our windows, and using electric motors.

Sid states that everything we read and hear is about being power smart (electricity). Renewable energy such as solar, wind and tide are also on the fore front, but it always seems to circle back to electricity. Sid argues that emission reduction strategies from natural gas usage are often ignored. Natural gas is widely used in industry (food and beverage, textiles, electricity generation, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, rubber, plastics, etc.) and reductions in its usage need much more attention than it is currently receiving.

We agree with Sid. The mainstream media's focus is often times more focused on "low hanging fruit", however, we have also seen great strides from the government and public utility companies in terms of promoting energy efficiency and offering rebates and incentives for industry users. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) leads the nation in conducting research and development for energy efficient technologies and supports the commercialization of emerging technologies. In addition, the EPA provides guidance and recognition to companies that develop long-term climate change strategies through their "Climate Leaders" program. Locally, many of our users have worked with PG&E and third party vendors to obtain rebate checks from equipment upgrades, which have resulted in substantial energy savings.

Sid's energy savings solution towards natural gas is condensing flue gas heat recovery. The Sidel SRU Series Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery Unit can be installed with any natural gas fired power boiler or heating unit. It is designed to reduce operating costs by recovering much of the wasted heat normally lost in the atmosphere into usable heat. Potential applications for the recovered heat include preheating process water or preheating return water for heating systems or boiler make-up feedwater. More specially, schools, universities and hotels could use the recovered energy for swimming pool water or it can be used into the space heating systems of buildings. Sidel System's website includes additional information about this cost savings solution, and if you have not already researched this topic, it is worth a look.

We all know that increased natural gas energy efficiency will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are many ways that this can be achieved and advancements in technology are always evolving.  Today, we must open our eyes a little wider and pay attention to all the cost-saving opportunities available at our fingertips that are not always widely recognized. The low hanging fruit is not only the easiest to pick, but it is often times the most ripest.

We would like to know what you are doing to reduce your natural gas usage. Also, are there any emission/energy reduction strategies you feel are not getting the attention they deserve?

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