Little Things To Do To Save on Energy Costs

It can be simple, little things that can add up to helping your brewery save money on energy use.

Adam Hickernell at Wolf’s Ridge shared the Columbus, Ohio brewery’s journey to improve energy use at the 2022 Ohio Craft Brewers Conference recently and gave insights into some of the things the production facility and tasting room/event center has done to work at being better.

“I just think it’s important to mention that anybody can do it,” he said. “Every brewery has a certain amount of limited resources, some breweries are able to fully employ somebody that does this full time and can be spending all their time overlooking it.

“Some breweries like ours, for example, I give it a couple hours a month and then try to keep us on track and focused on projects. But it’s not something I’m on the payroll to do. So, anybody can do it.”

Hickernell pointed out that he was using Wolf’s Ridge as an example and the brewery is 20,000 square feet and makes around 5,500 barrels per year. He is the Head of Distribution and does not specifically work on just sustainability efforts.

“We do not have a ton of resources invested, but moving forward, we are committed to being a great partner in our community and want to do as much as we can,” he pointed out. “Not only to save money, as I mentioned, and some of the opportunities to make our brewery more efficient, but also just being a good player in the community as well. So really, anybody can just start to get involved at any point.”

Here are some ideas that Wolf’s Ridge put to use to be more sustainable:

  • Insulating Ductwork & Old Leaky Windows: “Our taproom is in an old building at the location downtown and just caulking windows in the winter and things like that makes a big difference.”
  • Motion-Activated Lights: “When we did some renovations to the spaces in the brewery that has limited traffic, but you’re in and out all day long, like a break room or restrooms … putting on motion-activated light switches so that somebody doesn’t go in as the first person in the bathroom that morning they turn the light on and it’s just on all day, cranking usage.”
  • Water Heaters: Switching from dual 75-gallon water heaters to on-demand hot water, was an energy saver for Wolf’s Ridge. “Getting that installed early on and it saved us money,” Hickernell said. “Instead of all night long, when you’re dropping temp, you’re not just paying all that money to heat the water back up in big tanks. After the restaurant got busier and the tank got busy, we were running out of hot water, so we were paying more for it. But we didn’t even have it guaranteed all the time. So switching to an on-demand hot water source is symbiotic and a win-win in both ways.”
  • Programmable Thermostats: Hickernell said investing in a remotely programmable was a good investment. “I’m sure somebody has experienced where people come into your place, and they mess with the thermostat. Somebody came in and got a cold, they turned it up. They didn’t tell anybody, but then all of a sudden it’s Sunday and we’re closed and it’s set to 90 in the taproom?

“You want to do the 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer kind of thing. But that’s the kind of thing you don’t really think about that happens, but it does and you’re paying for that. You’re paying for that every second that it’s running but it doesn’t need to be.”

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