Industrial hot water and energy efficiency is growing increasingly important as government standards and requirements for lower operating costs grow more important within the sector.
When it comes to running an efficient industrial operations, there are a number of factors at play. On the one hand, companies need to reduce their utility spending, while on the other, they still have to meet the needs of their day-to-day operations. There are a number of ways in which these companies have begun to address these issues.
The key thus far has been looking at where the biggest reductions can be made. The Environmental Protection Agency has focused in on a number of valuable resources that, if able to be reduced, will pave the way for a greener industrial future. Two of the most important areas for savings that the EPA has identified are energy and water. A number of sectors including oil and gas, manufacturing and food processing plants all use water for their various processes. In total, their operations use roughly 5 percent of the nation's available water resources for anything from machine cooling, to laundry and kitchen operations, to large-scale washdowns, according to the EPA. On top of this, industry accounts for about 20 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions.
Hot water and energy use
Water and energy are used independently of one another for a number of different plant operations. However, one instance in which they are both used as a part of the same system is hot water heating. Whether hot water is used as a production or manufacturing resource, or as something to clean machines after they are done, it can cost a considerable amount of money. Hot water heating is the second most expensive utility, with 14 percent to 18 percent of every utility dollar going toward these expenses.
So what makes hot water, a relatively common resource, so expensive? It has to do with the fact that the process involves using both water and energy, both utilities that the EPA is looking to limit. In order to get the water to a desired temperature, which varies based on what it's being used for, plants need to expend energy to heat the water. While hot water heating can be costly, it can also be a huge opportunity to cut back on your utility expenses, and improve your carbon footprint in the process. The latter is becoming increasingly important especially as the federal government continues to implement measures aimed at reducing country-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
The advantage of tankless water heaters
The best way to address the issue of hot water heating in an industrial setting is to install more efficient hot water heaters. For years, the most common solution was a hot water tank. However, simply because it's the most common method of heating water, doesn't mean that it's the best.
Hot water tanks need to constantly expend energy in order to keep water at a consistent temperature. On top of this, the hot water supplies are limited by the size of the tank. As a result, industrial plant managers either need to use large tanks, which can produce massive amounts of standby energy waste, or smaller ones that may run out of hot water sooner than you would like.
Fortunately, there are new solutions that are able to eliminate both water and energy waste – namely, electric tankless water heaters.
These systems work by heating water on demand, meaning that they only expend energy when you need hot water. This eliminates the issue of standby energy waste, because the heater is only used when a system actively uses hot water. Some models are designed to turn on in stages, depending on the required flow rate to guarantee that only the necessary amount of energy is used.
Also, because these pieces of equipment heat water on demand, water waste is limited. With the hot water tank, the point where water is warmed can be located far away from the point of use. As a result, when you turn on a faucet or spigot, there is a delay on the arrival of the hot water. This wastes a lot of water simply because of this time delay. The tankless water heater can be installed at the point of use and heats water instantly, which limits this kind of water loss.
These are among the components that contribute to the 99 percent thermal energy efficiency rating that electric tankless water heaters have been able to attain, meaning that 99 percent of the energy that goes into the system comes out as heat. Even the most efficient tanks can only achieve a thermal energy efficiency rating of 67 percent.
By implementing tankless hot water heaters throughout your plant, you can reduce both water and energy usage and expenses, while also creating a more sustainable industrial economy.