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Combat climate change

Climate change is affecting us all, with incidents of extreme snowfall, wind and flooding in recent years still fresh in our minds. Gibbons Group, in conjunction with its partner ABB, has devised a six-step plan to help you identify potential energy savings and take action to reduce your electricity costs. Read on and start slashing your bills!

1. The facts

A recent survey showed that most companies believe the number-one way to save energy is by changing electricity supplier. But with electricity prices having doubled in the last 10 years and suppliers continuing to increase their rates, this is clearly not the best policy.

UK businesses must become energy efficient but this cannot be achieved overnight – it’s the result of a determined effort over time. A good place to start is to look at your electric motors. There are some 10 million electric motors in UK industry, running virtually everything that moves. Each may not seem very significant in its own right but together they’re by far the biggest users of electricity in industry.

A fully-loaded motor will typically use the same value of electricity within the first three months of operation as its purchase price. An 11 kW motor costing around £500 can consume more than £50,000 worth of electricity over a 10-year operating life. So even small changes in energy efficiency can make a big a difference to a motor’s life-cycle costs.

Make more use of variable-speed drives whenever there’s a requirement for reducing motor speed, particularly in pump and fan applications. For instance, used with a centrifugal pump, an AC drive can use up to 60% less energy. Applied to a 90 kW motor in continuous duty, this means a massive £23,000 per year in saved energy.

ABB and their partners have delivered over a million variable-speed drives during the last 20 years. It’s believed that most of the units produced in the last 10 years are still in use, giving an energy saving of 46 billion kWh per year.

2. The finance

Fitting drives often gives payback on energy savings alone within months. In addition, optimising the speed requirements can reduce maintenance costs.

If your company is small to medium sized (up to 249 employees) you may be eligible for an interest-free, unsecured Carbon Trust Energy-Efficiency Loan. Then there’s the government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme which incentivises businesses to choose energy-efficient products. Variable-speed drives in pump and fan applications and high-efficiency motors in all applications qualify enabling companies to write off the full cost against tax in the year of purchase.

3. The savings

Before you can make the savings you want, you need to find out just what your current energy use is. This is usually done in the form of an energy audit. Gibbons’ energy appraisal scheme takes half a day and investigates key energy-absorbing applications, helping users find out precisely where the greatest savings can be made. The energy appraisal includes an executive summary and a detailed engineer’s report, giving the actual monetary value of energy saved and the amount of the ECA tax relief that can be claimed, if applicable.

4. The products

Electric motors

High-efficiency electric motors are generally 3% more economical than basic designs. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has a classification system that ensures the efficiency levels of electric motors manufactured worldwide are clearly displayed. It establishes three grades:

  • IE4 (reserved for future use) is for super premium efficiency motors
  • IE3 is for premium efficiency
  • IE2 (sometimes EFF1) is for high efficiency
  • IE1 (sometimes EFF2) is for standard efficiency.

IE2 and IE3 motors qualify for ECAs, enabling users to choose the highest-efficiency motors with no cost penalty.

Variable-speed drives

VSDs reduce energy wastage in all phases of operation. Adjusting the output by mechanical means is very inefficient, but with drives, it can be achieved by altering the motor speed. This saves a significant amount of money - particularly in pump and fan applications - because the shaft power required drops off rapidly with decreasing speed. For instance, a pump running at 80% speed only uses 50% of the energy of one running at full speed. Drives save energy because the motor uses the precise amount of electrical energy required.

5. The application

Can the savings be proven? Gibbons and its partner ABB have hundreds of examples of companies that are now saving energy costs through using drives on various applications. For a reference similar to your application, get in touch here.

6. The action

Your first stop should be the Gibbons Group website, where you can browse our range of high-performance energy-efficient electric motors and AC drives and gain access to 45 years of experience and expertise. To discuss your energy-saving requirements, call Gibbons on 01621 868138 or email

HVAC Services, Variable-Speed Drives, Electric Motors, Pumps & Controls

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