Simple window modifications and scheduling changes cut winter fuel-oil consumption by 45 percent through February in the Cavendish plant of Mack Molding Co.
After years of steadily increasing fuel bills to fire two boilers, winter 2008 marked the point where action had to be taken, said Marc Colety, plant manager. Prices for No. 4 fuel oil had nearly doubled from the previous year, during which the plant consumed 80,000 gallons of fuel to generate steam to heat the factory. At double the price per BTU, something dramatic had to change.
Colety took action in August, opting for conservation the old fashioned way after investigating alternate heating sources and bolt-on technologies. Most of them [were] too expensive or long term to help this heating season.
Mack employees fabricated and installed storm windows using rolls of polyethylene sheet stock, trim lumber and plywood, replaced barn door access points with garage doors, recaulked hundreds of window frames and replaced four windows.
There were close to 8,000 panes of glass in the various windows, all of which were single-pane glass, he said. Very few had 'winter storm' windows.
Colety temporarily moved some employees from nights to first shift so steam generation could be reduced at night. An exception the injection molding area generates its own heat in winter.
Colety and his team set up strategic heat zones to provide additional heat to cold spots so the boilers did not have to compensate by providing excess heat to the rest of the plant.
The results have been exceptional, he said. By the end of February, the plant had used 31,715 gallons of fuel oil during the current heating season vs. 57,725 gallons in the previous season.
Despite Vermont's bitterly cold February, Mack held the gain at 44 percent using 7,340 gallons from Sprague Energy Corp. vs. 13,107 gallons in February 2008.
Colety noted, To accomplish all these savings, we spent a little over $10,000. That excludes salaries for the three or four plant maintenance workers who made the improvements over eight weeks on company time.
The four-story Cavendish brick building, now 150,000 square feet, was constructed originally as a woolen mill in the late 1800s.