Save Energy Now Program Enters Its Third Year

January 1, 2008

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Industrial Technology Program’s (ITP’s) Save Energy Now (SEN) initiative is kicking off its third year. This program has been extremely successful in helping U.S. businesses, factories, and manufacturing facilities save both energy and money despite variable energy costs.

According to “Overview of the Save Energy Now Assessment Program,” a presentation given by Bob Gemmer, ITP technology manager, at the BestPractices Steam Steering Meeting on November 16, 2007, the SEN energy assessments build on existing resources, including the following:

  • Established training programs on software tools
  • A cadre of qualified specialists in various assessment tools and systems
  • A network of university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs)
  • In-depth experience in conducting plant energy assessments using tools from the DOE
  • Internet information resources
  • The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) information center (877-337-3463)

The SEN program conducts Energy Saving Assessments (ESAs) of the most energy-intensive U.S. plants. It works with partners to create awareness and find energy-saving solutions. It also disseminates energy-saving information and tools to 50,000 plants to help reduce natural gas and electricity use.

The goals of the SEN program are to encourage industry to voluntarily reduce its energy usage in a period of tight supplies by working with the largest, most energy-intensive plants in the United States, and to create momentum to significantly improve energy efficiency practices throughout the manufacturing sector. Participating plants are selected by the DOE based on several factors, including the plant’s energy consumption and the company’s intention to include other similar plants within the company.

Assessment experts spend 3 days at each facility. The first day includes the following activities:

  • Safety briefing and tour of the plant
  • Overview of user-friendly DOE tool to plant personnel
  • Agreement on potential energy efficiency opportunities to investigate
  • Initiation of data collection for potential opportunities

The second day’s activities include the following:

  • Continuation of data collection
  • Applying the DOE tool to quantify potential opportunities
  • Agreement between the plant lead and expert on opportunity results

The third day’s activities include the following:

  • Wrapping up tool analyses
  • Plant lead and expert ensure they agree on opportunity results
  • Close-out meeting held in the after-noon to review results

New for 2008

This year, group applications have been discontinued, simplifying the application process for the SEN program. According to, smaller facilities can qualify on their own, as the awards will be based on applications received. Also, natural gas use will be given additional consideration in the selection process. Third parties may apply on behalf of a plant or company.

In addition, cost-sharing will be required for any facility that has received an energy assessment in one of the process areas in any preceding year. All other assessments will be at no cost to the plant. Cost-sharing may come from any source outside the DOE. In all cost-share cases, the DOE will provide payment for up to 22.5 hours of the 45 hours usually required for the energy expert to complete the energy assessment, and for the expert’s travel and lodging expenses. Negotiating the balance of the payment to the expert will be the responsibility of the applicant or a third party. The average cost to a company for its portion of a cost-shared assessment is estimated to be $3,000; however, this figure could be higher or lower, depending on the expert assigned.

Energy Assessment Options

In 2008, there is a lower threshold to qualify, with more midsize plants receiving assessments. According to, the following options, based on plant size, are available for SEN energy assessments from the DOE:

  • For large plants: The nation’s largest, most energy-intensive plants can apply to receive the 3-day system assessment. These on-site assessments are led by the DOE’s energy experts who use the DOE’s software tools and technical information to target a specific system area. Assessments also provide valuable hands-on learning that can help a facility’s staff gain knowledge to multiply the benefits of the assessment.
  • For small and medium-size plants: The DOE’s university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) conduct 1-day assessments at smaller plants. Teams of trained IAC faculty and engineering students apply the same DOE software tools and technical resources to identify savings opportunities through-out each plant.
  • For all plants: Whether or not a facility receives an energy assessment, expert technical assistance and guidance on how to make the most of SEN resources are available at According to Gemmer’s presentation, plants that apply but do not meet the criteria for an ESA can take advantage of personalized phone consultation to address energy efficiency in the plant; self-assessment tools; and products, DOE software tools, and training.

Why Save Energy Now?

According to “Overcoming Impediments to Investment in Process Heating Equipment,” a presentation given by Christopher Russell, principal at South River Facility Solutions, at the BestPractices Steam Steering Meeting on November 16, 2007, the energy paradigm for the 21st century includes the following factors:

  • Fuel and power markets are volatile.
  • Energy is a trackable, controllable expense.
  • Energy best practices are published and replicable.
  • Solutions involve technology, procedures, and behavior.
  • Energy cost control is a process, not a “project.”
  • Energy issues require a risk-management strategy.
  • Energy is wealth. It can be invested, preserved, and leveraged.

In the last 2 years, hundreds of companies have benefited from the SEN energy assessment program, and now states are allowed to participate (see page 43). On average, each large plant assessment yields a potential savings of $2.5 million. Implementing the recommended energy-saving measures can help participating facilities save 10 percent of more per year on energy bills, not to mention improving productivity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To be eligible for a Save Energy Now energy assessment, applicants must complete an online application form. Please visit to begin the SEN application process today.*

* The DOE began making initial selections of applications for assessments starting in mid-September 2007. However, additional selections will be announced periodically until the target of 250 assessments is reached for the calendar year 2008.