Managing Energy Costs In Distribution Centers

Are the maintenance and utility costs in your distribution center getting out of hand? It’s time to think about ways to reduce energy costs!

According to ENERGY STAR®, distribution centers at the 95th percentile in energy consumption use 16 times more energy than those at the fifth percentile. While differing climates, facility sizes and operations account for some of this difference, this illustrates the tremendous savings that can be realized when measures are taken to improve a facility’s energy efficiency.

How to Lower Distribution Center Energy Costs

Here are a few ideas to consider for managing energy costs in distribution centers:

  • Install a high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fan. The large interior spaces of most distribution facilities are challenging to heat and cool efficiently. The air tends to stratify, forming hot and cool spots and layers that conventional HVAC systems can’t adequately handle. This puts a strain on HVAC equipment and uses a lot of energy. HVLS fans are the ideal solution because they move a tremendous amount of air through the space using very little energy. In summer, they provide an evaporative cooling effect that makes a space feel up to 10 degrees cooler. In winter, they push warm air from where it collects near the ceiling down toward the floor where it’s needed. This method of air destratification can provide up to 30 percent energy savings in a large warehouse.
  • Mind your doors. Who doesn’t remember their mother scolding, “Don’t just stand there with the door open.”? She was right — it goes for your distribution center, too! Whether it’s your walk-in cooler door or your loading dock door, simply training employees to open them only as long as necessary can save a lot of energy. Conversely, you can use open doors to your advantage to help reduce cooling costs: During the heat of the summer, leave warehouse doors open at night to let in cool air. Just be sure to close them tight again as soon as the sun rises.
  • Upgrade your lighting. Lighting is one of the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to energy efficiency. If you are running an older lighting system, you could cut your lighting costs by 70 percent or more by switching to high-efficiency lighting such as industrial LEDs or high-efficiency fluorescents. Yes, it’s an upfront investment. Though in many cases, lighting upgrades will pay for themselves in a few months. Daylighting, too, is a great option that is also proven to improve worker productivity. You might also consider painting your distribution center ceiling and walls white. The reflective quality of white walls allows you to see just as well with less lighting input.
  • Automate. One of the biggest ways to lose energy in a facility is to run lights and equipment when they are not needed. Setting up your lights and HVAC equipment with automated timers is one of the most powerful ways to reduce energy costs in distribution centers.

Before starting your energy-efficiency upgrades, it’s a good idea to conduct an energy audit of your distribution center. Doing so will show you exactly where you’re losing energy, so you can decide which energy-saving measures to implement first.

Many facility managers agree that HVLS fans are one of the best solutions for managing energy costs in distribution centers. To learn more about how HVLS fans can save you money, contact us here.