I have written a series of articles recently on simple, inexpensive ways for to save energy, based mainly on individual pieces of equipment (HVAC, lights, etc.) or practices. While useful, simple, and cost effective, these may not be “home runs” of energy savings. A report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy looks at energy efficiency differently, taking the larger view of a company or building. Their report, A Defining Framework for Intelligent Efficiency, concludes that as a nation we can reduce energy consumption by 22% and save billions of dollars per year in energy costs by implementing “intelligent efficiency.” In other words, this means utilizing systems to focus energy use on where and when it is really needed. For some individual companies and buildings, the percent cost savings can be much greater.
The ACEEE report discusses system efficiency opportunities to produce and distribute energy that can result in significant savings. The report discusses how major improvements in IT (information technology), such as using the Internet and technology (sensors), and better communication of readings between equipment, can result in the more effective use and distribution of energy and therefore, save energy costs.
Here are 2 such strategies cited in the report that can result in energy efficiency gains:
Manufacturing often uses intricate equipment with complex and changing electricity and steam needs. Advanced sensors and controls can record real-time energy usage and operational information and feed it through the Internet to pinpoint changes in demand over time. Sensors and controls with the proper software can link to a company’s existing software to regulate energy usage, reducing waste and saving costs.
Real-time energy usage data in office buildings can also save money. Some office buildings already use systems that record electricity usage between different offices and functions and communicate this information to managers or individuals at their desks or on a video monitor. The key is to give tenants real-time data to better understand the major energy consuming operations and to estimate gains in energy efficiency by implementing different strategies. Such “what if” analyses can lead to cost savings.
While there will continue to be improvement in individual component efficiencies, the systems-based approach can result in major energy efficiency gains to result in measurable energy cost savings and reduce energy risk.
Marc Karell is the owner of Climate Change & Environmental Services. CCES can work with your engineering and IT staff to develop and help implement intelligent energy systems to help you understand your energy usage, improve efficiency, and save money. We can also recommend strategies to improve the efficiency and save you money for your individual components, as well, and determine the feasibility of renewable energy, too.