2015 Backup Generators Electrical

Scan These Six Energy Wasters

EP Editorial Staff | November 16, 2015


Thermal imaging will help you find and eliminate wasted energy in these industrial hot spots.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 8.47.00 AMIn any industrial facility, one of the fastest ways to cut overall costs is to save energy. One of the fastest ways to save energy is to perform thermal scans throughout a facility, looking for places where heat is escaping, cold is intruding, and/or temperatures aren’t what they should be. In any facility there are six areas/components that are leading candidates for energy abuse. Here’s what to scan in those hot spots.

Building envelopes

The rarely perfect building envelope includes a facility’s exterior structure, including roof, walls, windows, doors, loading docks, penetrations, and other openings; and the climate controls within. Scan:

  • roofs, looking for moisture issues and thermal differences that signal possible air leaks
  • walls between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, including outside walls
  • envelope penetrations, such as pipes, conduits, and chimneys
  • door and window frames and seals to locate air leaks (Repairs are often as simple as caulking or weather stripping.)

Worth noting: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, improving the efficiency of a building’s envelope can reduce energy bills by at least 15%.

Electrical system

Electrical systems are generally less than 100% efficient. As components degrade and resistance increases, energy losses mount. Scan:

  • distribution panels, unbalanced circuits, and loose and/or corroded connections
  • transformers (If one electrical leg is significantly hotter than the others, it may be failing.)
  • lighting-control circuits, focusing on splices and connections at fuses, switches, panels, and fixtures.

Motors and generators

Electrical inefficiencies most often appear as overheated areas in motors and generators. Scan:

  • airflow
  • electrical unbalance, i.e., load imbalance and single phasing
  • bearings
  • winding insulation
  • electrical connections.


Boilers are the heart of steam and water-heating systems and those vessels consume, and often waste, a significant amount of energy. Scan:

  • refractory and insulation
  • fan motors
  • pumps
  • valves (Thermal imagers can identify blocked and leaking valves.)
  • electrical connections (Loose or corroded connections increase electrical resistance.)

HVAC systems

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are usually some of the biggest energy consumers within commercial and industrial facilities. Scan:

  • ductwork and registers
  • fans and blowers
  • electrical connections
  • compressors and coils, specifically look for blocked coils and clogged cooling fins.

Worth noting: Buildings with constant-air-volume systems often have air leaks that can cause as much as 33% energy loss. Considerable savings can be achieved by implementing duct-sealing and insulation remedies.

Steam heating systems

Steam systems are more common in industrial facilities than commercial settings. Scan:

  • steam traps for proper operation through complete cycle
  • radiator coils for leaks in radiators and joints
  • steam lines and valves, particularly leaks, blockages, and blow-by at valves that are “closed”
  • condensers (Outside air leakage reduces performance and energy efficiency.).

Worth noting: If a medium-sized steam trap fails open in a 100-psig steam system, it will waste about $3,000/yr.  MT

These tips were provided by thermal imaging experts at Fluke Corp., Everett, WA. For more information on the use of this technology, visit fluke.com.


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