The modern building is a sophisticated and complex structure. Even though they may look the same on the outside each is completely different on the inside. A facility, just like a person, has many complex interwoven parts. Ducts and HVAC systems make up the respiratory system, insulation is can be compared to muscle or fat keeping the body warm and water piping can be compared to the circulatory system. Although each building has the same parts no two buildings are exactly the same; correspondingly no two people are exactly the same as well. As soon as a building is occupied things begin to change at an unpredictable rate. Each tenant may occupy the space differently; some may abuse the structure, and not maintain it. The ecosystem where a building is located plays a substantial role as the different elements create wear and tear. A healthy building needs to be constantly maintained, just like a healthy person needs to regularly visit a doctor.
Larger buildings will generally have facility specialists, the doctors of the facility world; these specialists are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. Just like a doctor these facility specialists will have an area of concentration they prefer the most. Some will focus on water, some on natural gas and others on electricity. The facility specialist’s focus is generally dependent on their own personal interest or the geographical area they are in. A facility specialist in southern Texas may not focus much attention on heating, just like an athletic doctor may not focus much attention on making sure his patients are getting enough exercise.
Regardless of the specialty there are many tools in a doctor’s arsenal that will work regardless of the medical concentration. Stitches work for external, internal, dental and even cosmetic purposes to allow the body to heal. A similar system is available to the facility specialist in the form of the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system. The CEMO system ties all the pieces together onto one easy to read web-based platform. It allows you to find and stop the energy or water that is bleeding from the facility. On the same platform you have the ability to view water, gas, electric and even renewable energy sources. Anything that can be metered can be monitored by the CEMO system. When dealing with something as complex as a facility you must have a tool that can combine everything into one easy to use platform. Using the CEMO system to stitch the holes in your system will result in more than saved energy; it will produce financial savings as well.
With the current state of the economy many individuals are looking for ways to reduce their bills. As money begins to grow tight a higher concentration of people are beginning to look in new areas of their budgets to find extra cash. Utility bills have a tendency of being written off as something necessary that cannot be changed, but that is no longer the case. Energy audits, home energy monitoring and other resources are available to reduce energy bills substantially. If you have already exhausted every opportunity to lower your energy bill there may be further hope in the form deregulation.
The deregulation of electricity allows for multiple suppliers to compete for the lowest price, creating a free market system. In select deregulated states users now have the ability to shop for their electricity provider. Many users have already shopped around for the best and cheapest rates on car insurance, cable, internet service providers, cell phone coverage and groceries; deregulation allows you to shop for your lowest electric provider as well. If you have already exhausted all other options in your budget it may be time to consider investigating deregulation, many states on the East coast and Texas are deregulated, and the numbers are growing.
As 2010 winds down and 2011 approaches many changes are being ushered in with the dawning of a new year. One of the changes may be your local utility becoming deregulated. One thing to watch out for is higher rates. Deregulation carries with it the removal of government caps on prices; some supplier raised their rates by up to 30% when they became deregulated. One company to consider is one that prides itself in offering lower rates and providing green energy. Viridian energy, available on the East Coast, offers 20-100 percent green energy and adjusts its rate to be lower than the competition. If your utility has deregulated or is about to become deregulated you do not have to accept and pay the higher rates, you can now switch to a new provider. The same principle applies for cell phones, cables, insurance and more, why not for your electricity as well?
Every manager is faced with the daunting task of making sure employees stay motivated. Many factors come into play since no two people are exactly alike. What motivates one person may mean absolutely nothing to another. Motivated employees are the most productive. With all the various factors of money, time, vacations and other perks there is only one factor that is true for all employees; the only person that can motivate your employees are themselves.
Change is something that can have huge impacts on employee motivation. With everyone embarking on new energy systems and energy conservation guidelines there is plenty of potential of lowered motivation. Since the only person that has the ability to motivate your employees is themselves you must find ways for employees to want to save energy. In order to have success you must align the company’s goals with the employees’ goals. Focusing on a single area may work for some, but not for others. For instance, if you advertise that saving energy will make you “green” you may be appealing to some workers but others may be negatively affected. Since each person has a different motivation you are faced with the challenge of finding each individual unique driving force.
To foster employee motivation and involvement in energy reduction you must clearly connect how the employee’s actions affect the entire organization. In a large company of several hundred employees a single person may feel insignificant. Many companies will try to overcome this by placing motivational banners or focusing on individual groups. In terms of energy reduction you may need to take a larger approach. Putting a pithy saying on a banner and placing it where all can see will not foster motivation.
The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. With the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system you can display for each employee, in real-time, how they affect the energy use for the entire building. The real-time graphs and charts will show exactly how the energy is being used. The company can place this information on kiosks, lunch room TVs or intranet sites. The CEMO system allows users to input baselines to allow employees to see when they have reached their goals or how far away the goals are. Being able to see the goal, the affects of their actions in real-time and exactly when they reach the goal will motivate employees to achieve success. Once the goals have been met have a celebration. A building by itself does not use energy, energy is used by those that occupy the building, and it is those occupants that can lower the energy reduction and in turn energy costs.
There are multiple programs currently available stressing the importance of energy efficiency and conservation. Many of these programs offer incentives for purchasing efficient equipment, weatherization or renewable energy upgrades. The Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) decided to take a new approach. They started a program known as the Western Mass Saves program, for now it is still a pilot program. The program offers incentives in the form of discounts on groceries, food, at local stores and on clothing. The utility users are given points for joining the program and for each kWh they save. The more you reduce your consumption the more points you receive and the more money you save. In addition to the point incentives the utility is also encouraging friendly competition between communities. The community that lowers their reduction the most receives a prize in the form of a small solar panel on a community building.
WMECo’s incentive plan comes as a rough winter season approaches for Massachusetts. During the winter months energy bills have the potential to rise considerably. At this point the pilot program is trying to be conservation aiming for a low 3% in savings. Since the program is still in its pilot phase they only plan to offer it to a few of the utility’s customers. If you find yourself in one of the elected communities you may be faced with the desire to lower your electric consumption as much as possible in order to gain points and allow your community to win. A home energy monitor may give you an extra edge in this competition and win you extra points.
The home energy monitor has the ability to help users lower their electric consumption by 6-18%. Simply having the knowledge of your consumption can help you reduce it. Using the energy monitor you can find and stop waste, or use it to reduce wasteful habits that result in added unneeded energy consumption. Since the utility is rewarding you to reduce your consumption the motivation to save is substantial. Not only will you see the savings in the form of a lower electric bill you will also receive points for discounts in other areas. Don’t stop at a mere 3%, aim higher and receive a little help from a home energy monitor.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) puts a great deal of focus and concern into the area of weatherization. An abundant amount of recovery act funding went towards weatherization and in return the reduction of energy consumption. In an attempt to make the auditing and assessing aspect of weatherization readily available and understood by both experts and consumers alike the DOE has created the Home Energy Scoring Tool.
This tool is available online for free and unlike similar tools, such the Energy Star Yardstick, the Home Energy Scoring Tool does not take your actual bills or consumption into account; instead it takes the information about your home gathered by an assessor and provides you with a rank. The walk-through needed to gather information for the free online tool collects data from 45 different points. Once completed the tool will calculate your score and compare your home to other homes in your area. The tool is designed to measure the home itself, not how the home is used. To substitute for the home’s actual use it makes the assumption that it is occupied by 2 adults and 1 child and that the thermostat is set at a certain level depending on the time of year.
Upgrades and improvements are then generated by the online tool and listed so they can clearly be seen and considered. The potential savings are also generated to show users how much they could affect their costs by making the improvements. The tool calculates a score of 1 to 10 which shows how your home is currently performing; the higher the score the better the performance. After this initial ranking it compares how it currently is performing to how it could perform if all of the potential upgrades were made.
If you plan to invest in home improvements this is a great tool to help you judge which improvements will result in the biggest savings. The upgrades pointed out by the audit will result in significant savings by improving energy efficiency. But, keep in mind that these readings do not take into consideration your actual use. Your home may be completely efficient, but your bills may still be high. If you are scoring high on the Home Energy Scoring Tool but your bills are still higher than you think they should be it may be time to look at how you use energy.
A home energy monitor provides a glimpse into your real-time daily energy use habits. Using this tool you can narrow in on waste. The average home has over 30 devices that are always using electricity, whether it is a charger that is still plugged in or a device in standby mode. Some devices in standby mode use as much electricity as in the on mode. The first step in changing your habits is to detect these always on “vampire” loads and stop them. A quick glance at the monitor occasionally will assure these loads are still off. Without continuous monitoring these vampires will sneak back slowly but surely, which is why continued monitoring is required. Using the monitor to maintain these devices can result in significant savings. One device by itself does not create a significant vampire load, but 30 or more devices combined can equal a lot.
Join us this Saturday November 13th at the New Hope Energy Expo. Forward Energy Solutions, Inc. will be exhibiting our CEMO and Envi systems there all day at the Nevermore Hotel. If you are in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey region stop by and say hello!
As winter begins to roll around again our thoughts begin to drift towards snow and ice. Many consumers, especially in the northern states, have found a solution for snow and ice in the form of radiant heating. Placing either electric heat coils or hot water filled hydronic pipes under a walkway, sidewalk or driveway ensures ice will not form and snow will not stick. These systems generally have sensors detecting both moisture levels and temperature. If the sensor thinks it is snowing or there is freezing rain it will activate the heat coils. These systems are being used for more than outdoors pursuits; residential users have installed radiant heating in their homes for not only the floors but also rooftops and even towel racks.
Unfortunately, every system that is used frequently will break down at some point. With an outdoor hydronic radiant heating system it may be almost impossible to tell if there are small leaks, since the pipes are concealed under cement or asphalt. In addition to leaks sensors can begin to function incorrectly which could easily result in a heated sidewalk in the middle of July. The very act of creating heat can be an expensive endeavor. You will either need to boil water and pump it through the system or heat the coils with electricity. With these two processes in mind it becomes extremely important to monitor your radiant systems. The biggest question becomes, how can you monitor something that is embedded under concrete or in floor boards?
Energy monitoring allows users to see exactly when their radiant system is kicking in. By monitoring the amount of electricity either used by the boilers or the coils themselves you will know exactly when the system is on. If you notice an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat your system there is either an efficiency issue or a leak in your system. Finding a leak as quickly as possible ensures that you are not wasting any energy and money. Once you know there is a leak call a professional. Many radiant systems will have warranties and because of this it helps to find the issue early before your warranty expires. More advanced monitoring systems, such as the Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) system, will allow you to monitor the flow of water itself. For cities with multiple walkways and sidewalks connected to hydronic radiant heating systems it makes sense to monitor and manage the amount of water and the amount of energy being used in order to eliminate waste. Whether you are at home, or a large corporation, monitoring your radiant heating system can save you a great deal of time, energy and money.
Saving energy comes in many shapes and forms. It presents itself in two ways, conservation and efficiency. Conservation is the act of turning off the lights when they aren’t in use or unplugging unused devices. Efficiency comes in many forms, and can include lighting, insulation, appliances and many other options. By itself each of these items has the potential to save some energy, but, used together efficiency and conservation can save an abundance of energy.
Efficiency and conservation alike have slogans that accompany them, pithy sayings such as, “Pull the plug on energy waste, saving is simple.” While it is true that you can save a considerable amount of energy and money by simply turning devices off or unplugging them completely you can save even more by combining this practice with energy efficiency. This offers a one two punch to your electricity. By utilizing the two you will begin using the least amount possible when the device is in use and none at all when it is not.
While it may be true that empty rooms love the dark they may also love CFLs or LEDs just as much. Buying products that have Energy Star labels ensures they are energy efficient, combining these products with the best conservation efforts ensures the most savings. Having an Energy Star rated TV may reduce your bill a little, but ensuring the TV is unplugged when not in use may save a lot. But what is the best way to tie energy efficiency and conservation together?
The home energy monitor allows users to observe their energy use habits. This allows them to pin-point exactly how to conserve more electricity or how to make the best energy efficiency purchase. Once you have discovered your habits you can begin to dial in on individual devices, this will help you find devices that can be more efficient. Discovering you leave the computer on and turning it off may be a great way to conserve, having the computer set itself to sleep mode is a great way to be efficient, having the computer go to sleep mode throughout the day and turning the computer completely off when it will not be used for eight hours is a great way to save a tremendous amount of energy and money. Combing conservation and efficiency is the best way to lower your energy use, and a home energy monitor can help you discover areas where you can conserve and become more efficient.
Energy efficiency has been something targeted towards home owners; unfortunately, for a third of Americans who rent their homes many of these upgrades are out of reach. Although landlords may not mind if you make energy efficiency improvements the motivation to improve a rental is low, in addition some landlords may not even let their renters paint the walls. There are some improvements that can be made without a hassle, such as changing lights, but other weatherization improvements are out of reach. Some renters are so nervous about their security deposits they will not even hang pictures on the walls. The desire to increase energy efficiency is evident, in fact, according to a survey 86% of renters preferred or were looking for an eco-conscious apartment.
The exact set up of your apartment or rental home may greatly determine which energy efficiency improvements you may pursue. Installing new windows, insulation, HVAC systems, washer and dryers or appliances may be out of the question, but monitoring your electric consumption is still possible. In order to monitor your consumption in an apartment you need to find a system that does not require electric wiring and that is plausible for an apartment.
There are many different home energy monitors on the market, some of which require electrical wiring. If hanging a picture on your wall puts you at risk imagine what splicing wires can accomplish. Other options attach to the actual utility meter; in some apartments the meter may not be accessible, or too far away. The average meter attached monitoring devices only has a 60 foot range, on average you will need to subtract 10 foot for each wall, making this solution nearly impossible for some apartments. Utility companies greatly discourage the use of this type of device, since it attaches to the meter, which is the utilities property. The question becomes, how can a renter measure their electricity consumption without angering the utility company or a landlord?
The answer comes in the form of the Current Transformer or CT. The Envi home energy monitor utilizes the CT to monitor electric consumption without requiring wiring of any type. All that is required for the CT solution is access to an electrical panel, which is very common in an apartment. The system is very simple, the CT clamps over each of the main cables leading into the electrical panel. The most difficult part of the installation will be accessing the cables themselves. Accessing the cables involves unscrewing the electric panel, which can be screwed back in place and will not cause any damage to the apartment. While this is not for everyone, an electrician can be hired to quickly install the system. Why sacrifice saving money, energy efficiency or being green simply because you live in an apartment? Energy monitoring using the Envi is possible and plausible for renters.
One of the best ways to lowering your energy consumption and costs is to eliminate waste and unnecessary use. Using a whole building energy monitoring system allows you to see two things very clearly, your base load and spikes. A base load is the electricity that is always on. There are some devices that may draw electricity 24/7; although these devices may be small their combined affect is significant. One user contributed 33% of his use to his base load. Another item to note is the spikes. Spikes occur when large items cycle or turn on. An example would be a furnace or HVAC unit, machinery, dryer, microwave or other large devices. If you are running a business a common spike will be when employees come into work and turn on their computers or other devices. Using the information from monitoring your energy you can reduce your usage and costs in two ways, attacking the base load and the spikes.
Monitoring will allow you to see your base load in real-time. This gives you the ability to make an informed decision and to see the effects instantly. The best way to manage a base load is to make sure it is as low as possible when a building is not occupied or at night. To do this you need to find the devices that draw energy 24/7. Even simple things like a porch light being left on all day can make a huge difference. Once your consumption base load has been reduced to its bare minimum you can use the energy monitor to assure yourself that it is at this minimum each night before you go to bed or before you leave the building. This especially becomes important for facilities over the weekend when the building is not in use.
The second way to reduce your consumption with energy monitoring is in the area of spikes. For facilities controlling peaks has a lot more application then at home. Commercial buildings are charged peak demand charges, because of this knowing exactly when your electricity peaks and managing those peaks can mean the difference of thousands of dollars. At home, and at a commercial building, it can also be an indication of how those large devices are working. An inefficient device will use far more electricity than an efficient device. If the peaks and spikes are higher than they should be consider repairing or replacing the device.
Real-time energy monitoring gives you the information needed to make informed decisions. It also gives you the peace of mind to know that everything is off and that you are saving the most money over the weekends or overnight. Having a device that allows you to view historic data will also help you narrow in on items that are turning on in the middle of the night or excessively cycling when not in use. There are many different benefits from having real-time information. The power of knowledge can never be under estimated.