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Winter is here. Check out our blog as we discuss 10 tips to make your building energy efficient this winter.
Based on the most recent forecast of heating degree-days from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperatures this winter (2017) are expected to be colder than last winter across the country.
Here is the table of Winter Outlook according to the EIA (US Energy Information Administration) :
EIA forecasts that average expenditures for all major heating fuels will rise this winter because of expected colder weather and higher energy costs. Average increases vary by fuel, with natural gas expenditures forecast to rise by 12%, heating oil by 17%, electricity by 8%, and propane by 18%. Most of the increase reflects expected colder weather rather than higher energy costs.
Keeping a building warm and energy efficient is a challenge that most building operators, facility managers and building owners face during this winter.
We are here to help you with these tips that we have gathered from energy management experts.
The strategies mentioned below will help you with saving energy consumption, reducing energy bills as well ensuring tenant’s comfort during these cold winter months.
Before you start with these strategies, it would be best to conduct an energy audit. This audit will help you determine what parts of the building consume the most energy and what other space of the building is energy efficient.
You can either conduct this audit yourself or for a more detailed assessment, contact your local utility or energy auditor.
It helps to know that the top three commercial building energy consumers are lighting, space heating and space cooling.
This will give you a good starting point with your energy efficiency program during the winter.
Let us take a look at the strategies that will help you:
1 : Control your Lighting: Since lighting is one of the largest consumers of energy in a commercial building, start with strategies to make lighting more efficient. This would involve the following:
- Sensors: Sensors can be used to automatically turn off or dim the lights based on a room’s occupancy.
- Building Automation Systems (BAS): BAS are used to control the lighting control based on an occupancy schedule. These systems were reported to have saved 19% of a building’s lighting costs.
- High-end trimming or light-level tuning:High-end trimming sets the maximum level of lighting to less than 100%. Light-level tuning sets the level even lower if a room or space needs less light
2 : Optimize Space Heating: Space heating is the second largest consumer of energy in commercial buildings. Maintaining your HVAC is a very important factor to achieve energy efficiency. Winter tune up is a good idea for HVACs. The tuning would help you become more energy efficient and save on the high-energy bills. The federal government’s ENERGY STARwebsite can help you find a qualified contractor. Making sure that the furnace filters and heating coils are regularly cleaned or replaced will ensure that there is no loss of heating in the building.
3 : Reduce Outside Airflow Rates: According to Ventilation Standards for Acceptable Air Quality (ASHRAE 62.1-2010), most buildings are bringing in more outside air than they are required to. Outside airflow rates should be reduced to the minimum allowed by ASHRAE for each space. Consider installing CO2 sensors in return air ductwork and maintaining interior CO2 levels.
4 : Check Boiler System: Use effective boiler management techniques. Operating on high fire settings or installing small boilers can save more than 7% of a typical facility’s total energy use. Doing comprehensive tune-ups and correcting excessive air losses, high stack temperatures, and excessive smoking can result in fuel savings of up to 20%. Installing insulation on all hot water and steam pipes over 120°F will ensure that excessive heat is not lost in transmission.
5 : Adjust plug loads: All electronic systems like computers, laptops, printers should be adjusted for proper power management settings. Low energy computers and monitors should be used. If the building is a hospital or hotel that needs appliances like washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher etc. , ensure that all appliances are ENERGY START appliances. For maximum energy efficiency.
6 : Maintain Ventilation: A humidistat helps to monitor and maintain the relative humidity in the air. A pneumatic thermostat is used to provide proportional control of pneumatic valves and damper actuators in heating and air conditioning systems. All the humidistats and pneumatic thermostats should be electronic so that it can be tied to a digital control system. The digital control system should also control the air volume damper actuator as well as air-handling unit (AHU). Outside air-handing units can be installed to provide outside air for the facility and all of the air can be dehumidified. This allows for higher discharge air temperature set points on the remaining air handling units and can save significant cooling energy use.
7 : Operations and Maintenance program: Operations and maintenance program at regular intervals like monthly, quarterly and annually can help with saving energy bills by as high as 20%. Some of the maintenance tasks would be regular tune-ups, calibrating sensors, inspecting and replacing air filters and heating coils, cleaning some of the vents and valves, retro-commissioning outdated equipment, detecting and sealing leaks, monitoring and maintaining oil levels and verifying various systems for the optimal operating levels.
8 : Metering Systems: Ensure that each facility has it’s own meters for electric, gas, fuel oil and steam. It is very important that most of these meters; especially the electric meter, measures the demand at regular intervals of time. This data is very important to measure, verify and optimize the energy consumption in the building. Smart electric and water heating meters (solid state or digital meters) should be installed to measure and provide accurate and detailed reporting of the consumption of energy. The smart meters need to be connected to a data storage technology. Data storage technology will allow for real-time data processing of the building’s operating conditions as well as energy consumption patterns. Communication and data storage technology should be installed in buildings to improve information and identify energy saving potentials.
9 : Hot water Systems: Hot water storage tanks typically use a lot of energy for stand-by water usage. Replacing these with tankless natural gas and electric water heaters will result in energy savings to the order of 25%. Reducing the hot water set point can also help with energy conservation. Using heat pump water heaters reduces energy use by 40% to 60% compared to a standard electric resistance heater, with payback periods typically less than three years. Heat pump water heaters need to be installed in applications where the cold air discharged from the evaporator can be exhausted from the space or used to cool the facility.
10: New Technologies: Use of LED and Plasma lighting has many advantages. LED lights are robust, use little energy and have a long life. They are dimmable, turn on instantly and have no ultraviolet or infrared components.
Plasma lighting has many advantages that make it a good fit for a variety of lighting applications. Plasma light bulbs use all benign materials in their construction and offer high efficacy, long life (20,000–60,000 hours), constant light output over the life of the bulb, and excellent color rendering.
SMART building systems: SMART building systems are the latest technology available for maintaining an energy efficient building. Smart technologies increase a building’s energy efficiency in a variety of ways. Occupancy sensors can control HVAC, lighting, and plug loads to cut energy use when offices or rooms are vacant.
Smart window shading can respond when it senses sunlight to reduce cooling costs. Smart plugs can be programmed to automatically shut off when nonessential equipment has been in standby mode for a preset amount of time to reduce plug load energy use. Fault detection and diagnostic algorithms can locate and prioritize equipment inefficiencies and malfunctions for the user (or perhaps the automation system) to correct.
Smart systems can provide building operators with real-time energy consumption data to help them identify savings opportunities. On a larger scale, smart buildings have the potential to help quantify energy savings and transform the energy efficiency industry.
In conclusion, there are a number of ways to beat the increasing energy bills this winter. You can deploy one or multiple of the ten strategies discussed above.
This might seem like a daunting task but collaborating with various stakeholders and discussing these options can help you address the challenges of the ever-increasing energy costs during the winter months.