Xcel Energy - Energy Solutions - January 2008
Use Less Energy, Reap Bigger Benefits
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Use Less Energy, Reap Bigger Benefits
Bright Ideas
Why High-Bay Fluorescents?
Natural Gas Price Outlook
Quick and Easy Heating-System Maintenance Checklist
Energy conservation makes sense. That’s why we offer our energy expertise, rebates and resources to help you build energy efficiency into your new construction or existing facilities. Learn more.

The table below shows just a few of the ways our customers have used our resources to save energy and enhance their own operations. And you can see that all these projects help reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Visit our Web site and our Energy Resource Library to learn more about energy-saving technologies and resources.

Sample conservation projects: Compressed Air, Custom equipment, Lighting, and Recommissioning
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Bright Ideas
Lighting upgrades save energy, cut costs and improve productivity

Caterpillar Paving Products, Inc., builds vehicles for asphalt-paving projects at its 375,000-square-foot facility. After learning about energy-efficient high-bay fluorescent lighting the company replaced 956 pulse-start metal halide fixtures with six-lamp T8s in three areas.

The results were immediate and ongoing. Caterpillar saves 45% in energy costs each month. The high-bay lamps draw only half the wattage while providing the same light output. The new lights further reduce energy use by emitting less heat, which reduces summer peak demand by 171.3 kW. And the new fixtures save in maintenance costs – about $14,000 annually. Visit here to read the Caterpillar case study in full detail.

Visit our Web site and our Energy Resource Library to learn more about energy-saving technologies and resources.

Lighting Efficiency Project: Caterpillar Paving
  Electricity cost savings:* $79,716 (45 percent) annually
  Energy Savings:* 1.5 GWh (45 percent) annually
  Demand Savings:* 171.3 kW
  Maintenance savings:* $14,000 annually
  Project cost: $170,722
* estimated values
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Why High-Bay Fluorescents?
Caterpillar Paving’s lighting efficiency project called for replacing the facility’s pulse-start metal halide lamps with high-bay fluorescent fixtures.

Traditionally, high-intensity discharge (HID) light sources, such as metal halide, mercury vapor, and high-pressure sodium lamps, have dominated the high-bay lighting market.

However, recent improvements in T8 and T5 fluorescent lighting technology have resulted in new fluorescent lamps that offer several benefits over HID fixtures, including:
  • Reduced energy use by up to 30% over metal halide and high-pressure sodium lighting
  • Instantaneous start-up (HID lighting requires a four- to 15-minute warm-up period)
  • Excellent color rendering so objects appear close to their true color
  • Less glare than HID lighting
  • Controllable by occupancy sensors, timers and photocells to increase energy savings
  • Dimmable using electronic ballasts, which reduce energy usage and light levels
High-bay fluorescent lighting can be ideal for many facilities, including big box retail stores, warehouses, gymnasiums, food-processing plants and other buildings with high ceilings.
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Natural Gas Price Outlook
Upper Midwest Perspective
Xcel Energy does not forecast natural gas prices. That said, as of late October, our best estimates were that natural gas bills for our commercial customers in the region would increase by 5% to 12% compared with last year. The majority of this increase is based on the assumption of a return to more normal temperatures compared with last winter’s extremely mild weather.
At the start of each heating season, Energy Solutions reports on a Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) publication that analyzes the factors affecting the market pressure points that ultimately determine natural gas prices. The NGSA sees generally flat pressure nationwide on natural gas prices this winter, compared with last winter, based on these factors:
  • Weather. This winter looks warmer-than-normal, but still cooler than the last two years’ near-record warmth. That could put some upward pressure on price.
  • NGSA anticipates that the economy will continue its low-level growth, indicating a flat winter-to-winter pressure point this heating season.
  • Natural gas storage inventories are at healthy levels and are expected to significantly exceed the five-year average. NGSA expects this trend to result in downward pressure on price.
  • Producers continue increasing domestic drilling. NGSA expects that the production increase could lead to an overall flat pressure on the wholesale market this heating season.
Xcel Energy does not forecast natural gas prices, and neither does the NGSA. Full text of the 2007-2008 Natural Gas Winter Outlook, the source for this article, is available by visiting NGSA’s Web site.
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Quick and Easy Heating-System Maintenance Checklist
  1. Clean and replace filters regularly.
  2. Set back your heating system when the building is unoccupied. This includes setting the fans to "auto" rather than "on."
  3. Repair leaks in system components such as pipes, steam traps and couplings.
  4. Make sure radiators, convectors, air intakes and air diffusers are not obstructed so that air can flow freely.
  5. Regularly change (or clean if reusable) the HVAC filters with your own do-it-yourself labor for a high return-on-investment.
  6. During peak cooling or heating season, change or clean your filters every month; they cost about $2 to $3 each. Dirty filters can cost up to $5 a month extra, overwork the equipment and result in dirtier indoor air. Consider purchasing electrostatic filters, which are washable, long lasting, and provide cleaner air. Clean or change filters more often if pollution sources are present.
  7. Plug noticeable building leaks with weather stripping and caulk, another inexpensive "do-it-yourself" job. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the desirable, deliberately controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air. Most commercial buildings require 15-20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) ventilation per person for healthy indoor air. Exceptions and details can be found in "Building Air Quality" at the EPA Web site.
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About this newsletter:
We distribute Energy Solutions quarterly to our Northern business customers to keep you informed about our programs and resources that can help your company be more energy-efficient and profitable. Please read it and pass it on to your interested colleagues, and reply to this e-mail to send us your comments or questions.
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