HOW TO REDUCE MAINTENANCE COSTS – IN YOUR HOME / BUSINESS
Presented By: Dean Wong
Owning a home is one of the most satisfying accomplishments of anyone’s life. It is a symbol of achievement to some, peace of mind to others, and to someone else, it is an investment.
Whatever you perceive your home to be, it is a physical structure constructed of finite materials that breakdown over time. Hence the need for maintenance.
The act of maintenance should begin at the outset or inception of the thought of building a home, or any other structure. Only the best quality materials should be used. This principle is illustrated in I Kings 5:17
The built environment has a profound impact on the natural environment, the economy, and human health and productivity. Homes account for over 20% of most nation’s energy use and as a result, for over 20% of carbon dioxide emissions. Homebuilders and homebuyers are demonstrating an increased interest in “green building” – for environmental, health, and financial reasons. Governing bodies can play an important role in providing services, incentives, programs and policies that support the green building movement.
The rising level of education among builders, growth in consumer awareness and the burgeoning demand for sustainable, environmentally friendly products have accelerated the mainstreaming of green building practices. According to the Residential Green Building SmartMarket Report produced by McGraw Hill Construction and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), residential and commercial green building will grow from 2% of the U.S. construction market in 2005 to as much as 10% in 2010—representing a difference of up to $30.8 billion.
Today, more than 80 regional and local green building programs are in place in the U.S. Local governments are finding innovative ways to promote residential green building in the private sector, while also making its health and financial benefits available to vulnerable populations through green affordable housing projects.
A green building or sustainable building, is an outcome of a design philosophy which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use, energy, water and materials, while reducing the building’s impact on human health and the environment during the building’s life-cycle.
Green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, more energy efficient, and have a smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes. Green homes rely upon established and proven design elements and technologies through best practice environmental features.
Components of a green home can include:
- Strategic site selection to minimize environmental impact;
- Landscaping and development designed to minimize water and energy usage and preserve or enhance the natural environment;
- Building designs that reduce waste, material usage, maintenance needs and increases durability through careful selection of building materials;
- Incorporation of salvaged, recycled and/or sustainable building materials;
- Emphasis on energy efficiency, particularly in the building envelope and the heating and cooling design;
- Use of renewable energy sources (such as solar);
- Use of ENERGY STAR – labeled appliances, light fixtures and bulbs;
- Installation of water-efficient appliances and fixtures such as low-flow toilets, water-conserving dishwashers, low-volume irrigation systems, and strategically situated water heaters;
- Protection of indoor environmental quality through selection of non-toxic materials and management of potential sources of pollution such as fireplaces, garages, kitchen appliances and mold;
- A homeowner or tenant education manual detailing optimal green home usage and upkeep.
Types of Maintenance Practices
Over the last 30 years, different approaches to how maintenance can be performed to ensure equipment / components reaches or exceeds its design life have been developed in the United States. In addition to waiting for a piece of equipment to fail (reactive maintenance), we can utilize preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, or reliability centered maintenance.
Reactive maintenance is basically the “run it till it breaks” maintenance mode. No actions or efforts are taken to maintain the equipment as the designer originally intended to ensure design life is reached. Studies as recent as the winter of 2000 indicate this is still the predominant mode of maintenance in the United States. The referenced study breaks down the average maintenance program as follows:
• >55% Reactive
• 31% Preventive
• 12% Predictive
• 2% Other.
Note that more than 55% of maintenance resources and activities of an average facility are still reactive.
Advantages to reactive maintenance can be viewed as a double-edged sword. If we are dealing with new equipment, we can expect minimal incidents of failure. If our maintenance program is purely reactive, we will not expend manpower dollars or incur capitol cost until something breaks.
• Low cost.
• Less staff.
• Increased cost due to unplanned downtime of equipment.
• Increased labor cost, especially if overtime is needed.
• Cost involved with repair or replacement of equipment.
• Possible secondary equipment or process damage from equipment failure.
• Inefficient use of staff resources.
Since we do not see any associated maintenance cost, we could view this period as saving money. The downside is reality. In reality, during the time we believe we are saving maintenance and capitol cost, we are really spending more dollars than we would have under a different maintenance approach. We are spending more dollars associated with capitol cost because, while waiting for the equipment to break, we are shortening the life of the equipment resulting in more frequent replacement. We may incur cost upon failure of the primary device associated with its failure causing the failure of a secondary device. This is an increased cost we would not have experienced if our maintenance program was more proactive.
Our labor cost associated with repair will probably be higher than normal because the failure will most likely require more extensive repairs than would have been required if the piece of equipment had not been run to failure. Chances are the piece of equipment will fail during off hours or close to the end of the normal workday. If it is a critical piece of equipment that needs to be back on-line quickly, we will have to pay maintenance overtime cost. Since we expect to run equipment to failure, we will require a large material inventory of repair parts. This is a cost we could minimize under a different maintenance strategy.
Preventive maintenance can be defined as follows: Actions performed on a time- or machine-run-based schedule that detect, preclude, or mitigate degradation of a component or system with the aim of sustaining or extending its useful life through controlling degradation to an acceptable level.
The U.S. Navy pioneered preventive maintenance as a means to increase the reliability of their vessels. By simply expending the necessary resources to conduct maintenance activities intended by the equipment designer, equipment life is extended and its reliability is increased.
In addition to an increase in reliability, dollars are saved over that of a program just using reactive maintenance. Studies indicate that this savings can amount to as much as 12% to 18% on the average.
• Cost effective in many capital intensive processes.
• Flexibility allows for the adjustment of maintenance periodicity.
• Increased component life cycle.
• Energy savings.
• Reduced equipment or process failure.
• Estimated 12% to 18% cost savings over reactive maintenance program.
• Catastrophic failures still likely to occur.
• Labor intensive.
• Includes performance of unneeded maintenance.
• Potential for incidental damage to components in conducting unneeded maintenance.
Depending on the facilities current maintenance practices, present equipment reliability, and facility downtime, there is little doubt that many facilities purely reliant on reactive maintenance could save much more than 18% by instituting a proper preventive maintenance program.
While preventive maintenance is not the optimum maintenance program, it does have several advantages over that of a purely reactive program. By performing the preventive maintenance as the equipment designer envisioned, we will extend the life of the equipment closer to design. This translates into dollar savings. Preventive maintenance (lubrication, filter change, etc.) will generally run the equipment more efficiently resulting in dollar savings. While we will not prevent equipment catastrophic failures, we will decrease the number of failures. Minimizing failures translate into maintenance and capitol cost savings.
Predictive maintenance can be defined as follows: Measurements that detect the onset of a degradation mechanism, thereby allowing causal stressors to be eliminated or controlled prior to any significant deterioration in the component physical state. Results indicate current and future functional capability.
Basically, predictive maintenance differs from preventive maintenance by basing maintenance need on the actual condition of the machine rather than on some preset schedule. You will recall that preventive maintenance is time-based.
Activities such as changing lubricant are based on time, like calendar time or equipment run time. For example, most people change the oil in their vehicles every 3,000 to 5,000 miles traveled. This is effectively basing the oil change needs on equipment run time. No concern is given to the actual condition and performance capability of the oil. It is changed because it is time.
This methodology would be similar in some respects to a preventive maintenance task. If, on the other hand, the operator of the car discounted the vehicle run time and had the oil analyzed at some periodicity to determine its actual condition and lubrication properties, he/she may be able to extend the oil change until the vehicle had traveled 10,000 miles.
This is the fundamental difference between predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance, whereby predictive maintenance is used to define needed maintenance task based on quantified material/equipment condition.
The advantages of predictive maintenance are many. A well-orchestrated predictive maintenance program will all but eliminate catastrophic equipment failures. We will be able to schedule maintenance activities to minimize or delete overtime cost. We will be able to minimize inventory and order parts, as required, well ahead of time to support the downstream maintenance needs. We can optimize the operation of the equipment, saving energy cost and increasing plant reliability.
Past studies have estimated that a properly functioning predictive maintenance program can provide a savings of 8% to 12% over a program utilizing preventive maintenance alone. Depending on a facility’s reliance on reactive maintenance and material condition, it could easily recognize savings opportunities exceeding 30% to 40%. In fact, independent surveys indicate the following industrial average savings resultant from initiation of a functional predictive maintenance program:
• Return on investment: 10 times
• Reduction in maintenance costs: 25% to 30%
• Elimination of breakdowns: 70% to 75%
• Reduction in downtime: 35% to 45%
• Increase in production: 20% to 25%.
On the down side, to initially start into the predictive maintenance world is not inexpensive.
Much of the equipment requires cost in excess of $50,000. Training of in-plant personnel to effectively utilize predictive maintenance technologies will require considerable funding. Program development will require an understanding of predictive maintenance and a firm commitment to make the program work by all facility organizations and management.
• Increased component operational life/availability.
• Allows for preemptive corrective actions.
• Decrease in equipment or process downtime.
• Decrease in costs for parts and labor.
• Better product quality.
• Improved worker and environmental safety.
• Improved worker moral.
• Energy savings.
• Estimated 8% to 12% cost savings over preventive maintenance program.
• Increased investment in diagnostic equipment.
• Increased investment in staff training.
• Savings potential not readily seen by management.
Reliability Centered Maintenance
Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) magazine provides the following definition of RCM: “a process used to determine the maintenance requirements of any physical asset in its operating context.” Basically, RCM methodology deals with some key issues not dealt with by other maintenance programs.
It recognizes that all equipment in a facility is not of equal importance to either the process or facility safety. It recognizes that equipment design and operation differs and that different equipment will have a higher probability to undergo failures from different degradation mechanisms than others. It also approaches the structuring of a maintenance program recognizing that a facility does not have unlimited financial and personnel resources and that the use of both need to be prioritized and optimized. In a nutshell, RCM is a systematic approach to evaluate a facility’s equipment and resources to best mate the two and result in a high degree of facility reliability and cost-effectiveness.
RCM is highly reliant on predictive maintenance but also recognizes that maintenance activities on equipment that is inexpensive and unimportant to facility reliability may best be left to a reactive maintenance approach. The following maintenance program breakdowns of continually top-performing facilities would echo the RCM approach to utilize all available maintenance approaches with the predominant methodology being predictive.
• <10% Reactive
• 25% to 35% Preventive
• 45% to 55% Predictive.
Because RCM is so heavily weighted in utilization of predictive maintenance technologies, its program advantages and disadvantages mirror those of predictive maintenance. In addition to these advantages, RCM will allow a facility to more closely match resources to needs while improving reliability and decreasing cost.
• Can be the most efficient maintenance program.
• Lower costs by eliminating unnecessary maintenance or overhauls.
• Minimize frequency of overhauls.
• Reduced probability of sudden equipment failures.
• Able to focus maintenance activities on critical components.
• Increased component reliability.
• Incorporates root cause analysis.
• Can have significant startup cost, training, equipment, etc.
• Savings potential not readily seen by management.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIPS FOR COMMERCIAL CUSTOMERS
If your business operates like most, you can find many opportunities for energy-saving improvements that can translate directly to financial savings and environmental diligence. The following are some general and specific actions you can take to (i) optimize your use of energy, (ii) save money and (iii) improve your bottom line.
- Turn off equipment that will be idle for long periods of time.
- Maintain equipment regularly for efficient performance.
- Repair leaks in boiler systems. Steam is used in many industrial processes and is often a source of large amounts of wasted energy and money due to leaks. Industrial facilities can reduce steam energy consumption by as much as 20% through simple maintenance and corrective measures in their steam systems.
- Install Energy Management Systems (EMS). These are devices that range from simple on/off time clocks controlling a single system, to sophisticated computerized systems that monitor energy consuming areas or systems and provide control dependent on prevailing conditions.
- Replace incandescent lighting with high efficient fluorescent or LED lighting. An 18-watt compact fluorescent, for instance, puts out as much light as a 60-watt incandescent. Also, good quality fluorescent lamps last almost thirteen times longer than incandescent lamps, which mean even more savings can be achieved in replacement costs.
- Increase the output of your lights by regularly removing grease, dust and other dirt from bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces.
- Use natural lighting wherever possible.
- Install occupancy sensors in offices and other low traffic areas that will keep lighting off when not needed.
- Turn off motors, when not in use.
- Use timer controls to operate equipment (such as irrigation and pool pumps) at set scheduled times.
- When replacing or purchasing new electric motors invest in systems with higher energy efficiency ratings.
- Match motor size to the horsepower requirements of the task. This guarantees the motors will be operating between 75-100% of full load where they usually are most efficient.
- Improve low Power Factor (PF) by installing capacitors. Inductive loads, which are predominantly electric motors, are the major contributors to low PF. Low PF increases the demand charge on your electricity bill. A PF of 0.85 or higher is considered good.
- Use adjustable speed drives in situations where you may not need full power from the motor at all times. Variable speed drive motors allow the matching of the input power of the motor to the load requirement.
- Establish and keep up with maintenance schedules on electrical and electro-mechanical systems. This should include performing regular cleaning and maintenance on your motors, tightening belts and pulleys to prevent slippage, lubricating motors and drives regularly to reduce friction, and replacing worn bearings.
- Turn off computers, printers and other office equipment when you are not using them, especially overnight and on weekends.
- Use the energy saving or sleep mode on computer monitors to save energy.
- Choose the smallest computer monitor that meets your needs. Larger monitors require more power.
- Consider having employees use lap top computers, since they use up to 90% less electricity than standard desktop computers.
- Use ink jet printers for very low volume printing. They use just 4% of the electricity used by typical laser models.
- Use a multi-function printer/scan/fax machine, as it will use much less power than the three separate machines combined.
- Size or select air conditioners based on the size of the area to be cooled and schedule of operation of the area(s).
- When purchasing new air conditioning units, request the more efficient model or those with high energy efficiency ratio (EER) i.e. 10 or higher.
- Do not set air conditioner thermostats to the lowest setting e.g. 16oC but to moderate levels like 20oC to allow efficient operation.
- Occupancy sensors can be used to control AC units in areas where they may be inadvertently left on.
- Central air conditioners are typically more efficient than comparable split units, but they tend to be “operated” inefficiently by being poorly maintained or used to cool unnecessary areas.
- Keep your filters clean and maintain air conditioning units in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Ensure air conditioned areas are properly enclosed to minimize hot air infiltration via doors and windows, or heat gain via poorly insulated roofs and walls.
- Add or repair insulation to ducting, roofing, and other building envelope components to reduce cooling requirements.
You can lower your electricity bill by using energy more efficiently. First of all, you can reduce the time each electrical device is operated. Secondly, you can lower the wattage of the electrical devices you use. When purchasing, check the equipment label for wattage details.
AIR CONDITIONERS: POWER USAGE
The average 12000 BTU bedroom unit operated 6 hours a day will burn approximately 154 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: Approximately $3,157*
HOW TO CONSERVE
- Reduce the hours of use.
- Keep windows and doors closed when a/c is on.
- Keep condenser free of leaves, etc.
- Keep air filter clean.
The faster a motor runs, the more power it uses.
HAIR DYERS: POWER USAGE
The average domestic Hair Dryer burns 1.8 kilowatt hours of electricity every hour. One (1) hour’s use a day would burn about 54 Kilowatt-hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $1,107*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
Managing the use of your Dryer is a personal decision. Remember that it consumes power all the time it is plugged in.
60 cycle appliances use power less efficiently than true 50 cycle appliances.
ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS: POWER USAGE
The average water heater operated 3 hours a day will use about 135 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $2,767.50*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
- Run the heater for half-hour intervals only: ½ hour in the morning and ½ hour in the evening. You’ll have warm water when you need it and save up to 90 kWh a month.
- If you need excessive amounts of cold water to dilute your hot water, your heater’s thermostat may be set too high and you are wasting electricity. For greater efficiency set the heater’s thermostat to 120° F for greater efficiency.
The more heat an appliance produces the more power it uses.
CLOTHES IRONS: POWER USAGE
The average clothes iron burns just over 1 kWh of electricity every hour. 2 hours use a week would burn about 10 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $205*
HOW TO CONSERVE
Try to keep your weekly ironing to less than two hours. If you have to stop ironing to do something else, unplug the iron.
Appliances that provide heat use more power. Keeping them on, if you don’t need to, is a waste of power.
HOUSEHOLD LIGHTS: POWER USAGE
A 100 Watt incandescent bulb operated 6 hours a day will burn 18 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $369*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
Switch to energy saving fluorescent bulbs ( CFL’s)
- A 25 Watt fluorescent gives as much light as a 100 Watt incandescent bulb, lasts a whole lot longer, and uses only 5 Kilowatt hours a month.
- They may cost more to buy, but will save you money in the long run.
FANS: POWER USAGE
The average standing fan running 6 hours a day will use approximately 11 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $225.50*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
- Reduce the number of hours of use.
- Turn them off when not needed.
STOPPING ENERGY WASTAGE
TV’s, Cable boxes, and other similar electronic equipment use energy even when turned off. Entertainment systems can burn up to 11 Kilowatt hours (kWh) a month. Cost: About $225.50*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
Plug your electronic equipment into a power strip and turn off the power strip when leaving home or when the equipment is not being used.
The louder you play a Stereo, the more power you use.
REFRIGERATORS: POWER USAGE
The average 16 cu. ft. Refrigerator burns about 60 kWh a month. Cost: About $1,230*.
HOW TO CONSERVE
- Place refrigerator in a cool spot, away from heat sources.
- Do not open the fridge more often than necessary, or leave the door open.
- Organize food in the fridge to ensure good air circulation.
- Let hot foods cool before putting them in the fridge.
- Allow adequate space between the fridge and the wall, so air can flow freely around the condenser coil.
Top Freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models; however older refrigerators (10-15years) will generally be less energy efficient than newer ones.
HOW TO READ YOUR METER
The electricity meter measures exactly how much electricity you use. Learning to read your meter will help you to monitor your energy usage. Here’s what you need to do:
STEP 1 : Stand directly in front of the meter and look at it very closely.
- You will notice that it has 4 or 5 dials that resemble clocks.
- Each dial has a pointer like the hand of a clock.
- These pointers move only when electricity is being used, and they turn very slowly.
- Also notice that the pointers do not all move in the same direction; some turn clockwise, while others turn anticlockwise.
- The dials are connected to each other, so the movement of one will affect the movement of the other. As the dial to the right moves one full turn (from zero around to zero again) the dial to the left moves one full unit. Look at the example below. When the pointer on dial E goes around one full turn, D moves one digit. When D moves one full turn, C moves one digit, and so on.
STEP 2 : Now that you are familiar with your meter, you should record the readings.
- Starting with the dial on the far right (dial E), write down the number that the pointer has just passed (i.e. the lower number).
- Continue reading the last number passed on dial D, C, B, and A then record the readings in the same sequence from right to left.
- You could also record the readings from left to right, but make sure you write them down in the same sequence as they appear.
- When you have finished recording all the numbers, your reading should be 14967.
STEP 3 : Calculate how much electricity you have used since your last meter reading.
- Let’s say your last reading was 14667.
- Minus last month’s reading from the reading you recorded in Step 2.
- The result is the total number of kilowatt-hours used since last month’s reading.
- For Example,
..14967 (the new reading)
– 14667 (last month’s reading
……300 (your usage since last month’s reading)
Sources: Operations and Maintenance Guide, Best Practices, Release 2.0
Green Government, Counties & Residential Green Building Standards.
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 53, 2009
Jamaica Public Service Company Limited.