Optimize Electrical Usage in Your Commercial Space

Energy costs have been rising significantly since 2020 but even more so since 2022. The World Bank’s energy price index shows an increase of 26.3% in the first quarter of this year on top of a 50% increase from January 2020 until December 2021.

Without a plan to reduce energy costs, your business could be taking more of a financial hit than it should.

Managing Cost

There are two significant ways to manage energy costs – reduce commercial electricity consumption and supplement your grid usage with renewable energy like solar or wind.

According to a 2016 study, energy consumption for a commercial building in the US looks like this:

Lighting: 17%

Refrigeration: 16% 

Ventilation: 16%

Cooling: 15%

Computers: 10%

Office equipment: 4%

Cooking: 2%

Space heating: 2%

Water heating: <1%

All other*: 18%

*All other includes motors, pumps, air compressors, process equipment, backup energy generation, miscellaneous appliances, and plug loads.

As per the same study, the top five energy-consuming building categories used about half of the energy consumed by all commercial buildings in 2012, and they include the following types of buildings:

· Mercantile and service (15% of total energy consumed by commercial buildings)

· Malls and stores

· Car dealerships

· Dry cleaners

· Gas stations

· Office (14% of consumption)

· Professional and government offices

· Banks

· Education (10% of consumption)

· Elementary, middle, and high school

· Colleges

· Health care (8% of consumption)

· Hospitals

· Medical offices

· Lodging (6% of consumption)

· Hotels

· Dormitories

· Nursing homes

How to Deal with the Energy Situation – Reduce

The easiest way to reduce energy consumption is usually to cut down on the usage itself. This really depends on what you’re doing, who your Texas commercial energy supplier is, and how energy efficient your business is to begin with.

Let’s assume you’re running an average business from an office building in Reno, Nevada.

We also assume you are in control of the building you work in and you can make some changes if need be.

The first step is to perform an energy audit. You need to get a Reno commercial electrician to come and inspect your system to determine its condition. Older electrical systems tend to have “vampire loads” which are wasting your commercial electricity supply.

Lighting, heating, and cooling are three areas where improvements can be made and seen easily. Natural light should be used as much as possible. Not only is it free, but the light spectrum is much kinder to your (and your employees’) eyes. Skylights may not be viable in all buildings, but where they can be installed, they will have a definite impact during the day.

Once you’ve taken advantage of as much natural light as possible, the next frontier is the remaining lighting. Since they stay on for the entire working day, lights can use more power than expected. New generation LED lights are very efficient, relatively cheap, and they will outlast incandescent and fluorescent bulbs by a long time and reduce your Reno commercial electricity rate.

Refrigeration is becoming more efficient by the day, so replacing older refrigerators with new ones can make a big difference. Making sure seals are in good condition, and keeping the doors closed will also help to reduce load on the refrigerators.

Heating and cooling is the next item on the list, and there’s usually room for improvement in these systems as well. The building’s insulation will make a big difference when it comes to your heating and cooling efficiency.

If you haven’t already had the roof and walls properly insulated, it could be a good way to make the most of your heating and cooling. Newer generation air conditioners also use a load dependent controller for the motor, so it’s only ever drawing as much power as it needs to move the right amount of air, reducing your total Reno commercial electricity cost.

The same is true for ventilation systems.

One of the best (and cheapest) methods is to create a culture of energy saving within the workplace.

Even a simple phone charger will draw from 5 to 10 watts. If one is left plugged in 24/7, it could draw to 5.4KWh in a month (assuming 7.5w draw). That’s a significant amount of power wasted when you consider how many people do this.

That’s 54KWh in a month for 10 chargers left plugged in!

Get employees to switch off unused equipment and to be mindful of their power consumption. It’s going to be a necessary habit in the coming years if energy costs continue to rise.

Alternative Energy as a Solution?

Solar power is becoming more popular by the day, and with the advent of grid-tied systems, it does present a viable option for greatly reducing costs and making your workplace more environmentally friendly.

Solar panels are typically used in combination with batteries and inverters, and once your batteries have been fully charged, the solar power being generated by the panels is available but usually gets wasted if there’s no load.

A grid-tied solar system allows you to supplement your Reno power usage with power you generate from your own solar panels. It also gives you the opportunity to put power back into the grid and get paid for it when you don’t need it. This can significantly reduce your energy costs, assuming you have the space to set it up.

Wind power is another alternative and works in a similar way to solar power. The wind is usually not constant throughout the day, so the system depends on batteries and inverters, much like a solar power system. Building integrated wind turbines may be an option, but their feasibility is still in question. They do present an interesting alternative if you have a high building with the roof space. New Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) are very good at catching a tiny breeze and generating power from it. They can also look quite beautiful.

Like with solar, a grid-tied system is probably the most beneficial for a commercial space.

In Conclusion

Given the complexity and costs of all these solutions, the average business person may be tempted to ignore them or write them off as an expensive gimmick, but remember one thing – if the current energy price trend continues, saving energy will become a priority, and these solutions will see a massive surge in demand, and with it, prices.

Reducing your company’s needs for fossil fuels and grid-based power can definitely be seen as an investment, so we encourage you to do some research and start saving. Both money and our planet.

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