In 2006, a U.S. Department of Energy "Save Energy Now" energy assessment was performed at Shaw Industries' plant in Dalton, Ga., to identify potential energy-savings opportunities in the company's steam system.

At that time, DOE Energy Expert George Lee showed the facility's maintenance engineers how to analyze the plant's steam system using DOE's suite of steam system software tools. By capitalizing on some of these opportunities, plant personnel were able to achieve significant energy savings.

After determining which assessment recommendations had the fastest paybacks, plant personnel began taking steps to reduce the energy used by the steam system. They optimized the boiler operation to fully load their most efficient boiler and installed waste heat exchangers on two separate processes in the dye house and an economizer on one of their boilers.

By implementing these measures, the plant saved an annual total of $872,000 and the equivalent of 93,000 million BTU in natural gas and No. 6 fuel oil combined. With project costs of approximately $1.5 million, the plant achieved a simple payback of 1.7 years. The success of the "Save Energy Now" assessment prompted Shaw to repeat the process and use the software tools in their other plants.

Through "Save Energy Now", industrial plants can begin to operate more efficiently and profitably by identifying ways to reduce energy use in key industrial process systems.