Energy Controls: Simple Changes Can Save Up To 30%

Better use of buildings’ energy controls could drastically reduce the cost of commercial energy.

Researchers in the US found simple changes, such as making sure air conditioning runs only when appropriate, could cut energy use by an average of almost 30%.

In secondary schools, the efficiency measures could save nearly half the energy used.

The suggestion that better understanding and management of a building’s energy controls help cut costs and usage is, of course, nothing new. However, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory examined the effect of proper maintenance and how combinations of 34 energy efficiency techniques can make a tangible, measurable difference.

Engineer and co-author of the report Srinivas Katipamula pointed out that many large commercial buildings do have automation systems designed to manage energy consumption.

“But those controls often aren't properly programmed and are allowed to deteriorate over time, creating unnecessarily large power bills,” he said. "Our research found significant nationwide energy savings are possible if all US commercial building owners periodically looked for and corrected operational problems such as air conditioning systems running too long."

Potential Savings

Among the 34 measures examined in the study were fixing broken temperature sensors and dimming lights in areas with natural lighting. In different types of buildings, different combinations helped maximise savings, but the individual measures with the greatest potential were:

  • Better management of temperature settings for both heating and cooling, and lowering overnight heating temperatures (8% saving);
  • Reducing the minimum rate for air to flow through variable air volume systems (7% saving);
  • Limiting heating and cooling to when a building is most likely to be occupied (6% saving).

The team compared a failure to properly service energy controls to driving a car with a glowing check-engine light, and failing to use the controls properly to driving at high speed in first gear.

361 Degrees consultants and engineers are experts in designing and maintaining energy controls for maximum efficiency, saving schools, commercial building owners and others significant money on power bills. Click below to learn more about how we can help you reduce your energy consumption.

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