4 Best Practices in Using Pumps to Cut Energy Costs

How the utility savings generated by pumps can fuel more profitable manufacturing.

Pumps In A Factory

While pump systems can account for 40 percent of industrial energy use, pumps are often overlooked as sources of cost- and energy-savings. Industrial leaders may be well versed in the potential savings generated by efficient lighting and line equipment, but what if they could help unlock 162.9 terawatt-hours of energy savings and subsequent cost savings of $14.6 billion by re-evaluating their pump systems?

According to the EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalency calculator, that greenhouse savings would represent carbon sequestered by more than 1.9 billion tree seedlings grown for 10 years. That’s about equal to the CO2 emissions from more than 12.9 billion gallons of gas consumed and a year’s worth of electricity for more than 13 million homes.

These potential gains can be mined throughout the pump systems that heat and cool buildings, run industrial plants, and irrigate farms. By re-evaluating current pump systems and implementing more energy-efficient solutions, manufacturers can generate long-term savings without sacrificing reliability—arguably the most important attribute of pumps.

These measures not only help the long-term bottom line, but they can bolster sustainability initiatives. According to a 2019 NAM Sustainability Survey Report, 80 percent of manufacturers said they have a sustainability policy in place or are developing one and 93.8 percent of companies surveyed track energy usage.

For manufacturers looking for ways to bolster such initiatives, here are a few topline considerations to make to leverage pumps in the sustainability strategies of manufacturers:

  • Consider the Needs of Your Facility First.  The scale of energy and cost savings depend on a variety of factors, but properly selecting pumps and ensuring they have an HI Energy Rating Label will increase the savings. For example, utilizing water pumps with an HI Energy Rating of 50, in a typical mid-sized commercial building using 20 pumps with an average 15-hp rating, you could expect to see a savings of 411,000 kWh per year, or $37,000 per year. In an industrial building using 40 pumps with an average 15-hp rating, you could see a savings of more than 1.3 million kWh per year, equating to an approximate savings of $117,000 per year.
  •  See Through the Lens of TCO. A variety of factors for different settings can affect energy savings resulting in long-term potential for significant cost savings. Upfront costs can often deter specifiers from considering overall savings throughout a pump’s lifecycle. For a typical pumping system, 65 percent of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is related to energy and maintenance while the initial cost only accounts for 10 percent. Trying to reduce cost upfront by extending the pressure and temperature range of a pump could produce much higher TCO due to maintenance costs.
  • Take a Whole-System Approach. It is important for facility management as well as their team of engineers to understand that all pumps are selected to meet system requirements—not the other way around. Upon determining an application, engineers can assess criteria, which varies greatly between different uses. For example, a hydraulic heating pump that circulates water will require different flow rates and attributes than water distribution pumps in commercial buildings. The energy consumption required for any system depends on the flow rate of the entire system including the pressure (head) and how often the pump(s) are operating. By reviewing the entire system and not just the individual pump, engineers and specifiers lay the foundation to select the right pump or system and the proper control methodologies to manage the flow of energy and ensure reliability.
  • Think Smart. There is often the opportunity to improve performance, efficiency and reliability of a system with more sophisticated technology. For example, system designers can utilize smart pumps that integrate a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), which have the pump performance programed in from the factory—or retrofit with a separate VFD. Both solutions reduce the pump speed to meet a designed set point for greater efficiency and cost savings.

To help identify the most efficient pump for the system requirements, the Hydraulic Institute (HI) offers an Energy Rating Program for select pump types below 200 horsepower. Further details can be found at http://pumps.org/energyefficiency/.

Michael Michaud is the executive director of the Hydraulic Institute. The Hydraulic Institute (HI) centers the pump industry around excellence and efficiency to power everyday life. HI’s mission is to advance the pump manufacturing industry by becoming the world’s resource for pumping solutions and advancements in the industry by: Addressing Pump Systems, Developing Standards, Expanding Knowledge and Resources, Educating the Marketplace and Advocating for the Industry.