Energy efficiency is a popular topic among politicians, as global warming and rising utility costs have increased public awareness of environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional means of electricity production.
Even though the public is well-acquainted with solar panels and wind turbines, President Barack Obama has backed a different plan to help businesses reduce energy waste.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is a 100-year-old technology that has efficiency levels of up to 80 percent compared to the roughly 33 percent for of traditional means of heat and power. CHPs work by conserving the thermal energy created when electricity is produced. For example, when it is used to heat a building, it helps to reduce that facility's dependency on fossil fuels.
In a speech given in late August, the president announced plans that will encourage businesses to increase the use of CHPs by 50 percent come 2020.
"Our industry is not as sexy as solar or wind because we are essentially selling boxes," said Justin Rathke, a vice president of sales for CHP maker Capstone Turbine.
One added benefit of CHPs is that their simple designs blend in much easier than wind turbines and solar panels. As well, CHPs create significantly more power from a single fuel source than either of the more popular alternative energy options.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, an industry advisory group, recently recommended CHPs as replacements for 12 coal power plants throughout the country that are facing closure.
For business owners looking to explore ways that they too can support greener fuel consumption, an energy audit can show them where they are wasting and what upgrades they can make to their operations.