5 Ways Your Buildings Might Be Wasting Energy, Without You Noticing June 10, 2014 | Samantha Dubrow

It’s summer again, and summer means blasting air conditioning. Women at work shiver in their dresses while men sweat in their suits. No one is happy. And, as we all know, air conditioning certainly isn’t free.

Air conditioning isn’t the only problem. Buildings quietly go unnoticed as they waste energy in plenty of ways. According to Breaking Energy, about 30% of building utility bills are purely from wasted energy. Here are a few ways your buildings might be using unnecessary energy, and how you can fix the problems.

1. Natural Light Isn’t Being Utilized

lamp_lightSo it’s summer right? That means you should be utilizing natural sunlight from about 6am-8pm. Breaking Energy notes that lighting contributes to about 25% of energy bills, so this is an easy way to save. First, make sure all of the lights are off when buildings are empty. You can also go one step further, and install automatic lights that will turn off after motion is not sensed for 15 minutes.

Send a friendly note to your tenants, telling them to open their blinds during the day and take advantage of the sunlight. Also, if there are overhead lights and lamps, tenants should only use what they need the sufficiently light the room. Without over-lighting, you and your tenants could save up to 40% on lighting bills.

 

2. Your HVAC Units are Working Too Hard

Remember when you were a kid getting into a car on a hot summer day and you wanted to open the windows while the air conditioner was getting started? And remember how your mom told you not to, because it would it would actually take the air conditioner longer to cool the car? Same thing goes for buildings.

This creates a fine line between utilizing natural light and not wasting air conditioning. Share this tip with your tenants: If there is sun coming directly through a window, or it is an exceptionally hot day, shut the blinds. In these case, using overhead lights or lamps instead of natural sunlight will be better than making your air conditioners work 25% harder.

 

3. Your Energy Management Controls Aren’t Working Properly

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Maybe, maybe not. But I can tell you for sure that if your buildings are lit or air conditioned at night, and no one is around to see or feel it, you’ll still pay for it.

All buildings, even your buildings, are going to have irregularities in their systems, so you should always be checking on them. You could have an incredibly expensive problem for months without noticing, because the building seems to be operating normally. So, take a few minutes every week to make sure everything is working properly.

That being said, if you own several large buildings, it will take more than just a few minutes to check every single utility. This is where sub-metering and real-time energy data come into play. Sub-metering enables you to break down the building to see which utilities are using the most energy. With real-time data you can easily look at your buildings’ energy consumption patterns over the course of a week or a month to identify problem areas.

 

4. Electronic Devices Are Always Plugged In

Encourage tenants to unplug chargers and turn off computers and printers at night or over the weekend. According to IBM, this can help cut about 10% of your utility bill.

 

5. Your Old Elevators are Being Overworked

elevatorElevators comprise of 3-7% of buildings’ utility bills. Elevators that are more than 15 years old waste a ton of energy. They are often hydraulic, meaning their motors use about 50 HP instead of 7 HP used in modern elevators. Also, faster elevators can help you save energy. If every trip is a few seconds shorter, those seconds will quickly add up. Installing new elevators definitely isn’t the easiest change you can make, but if yours are really old, it will be worth it.

Any building could be faced with these excessive utility expenses. Some things are easier to fix than others, but the real key to making your buildings as efficient as possible is through utilizing real-time data, so you can identify problems as soon as they happen.

To learn some exclusive tips for how real-time data can pay for itself in less than a year, join Cassidy Turley’s VP of Engineering-Operations, Lee Dunfee, and Aquicore Inc. CEO, Logan Soya, for a Webinar on Wednesday July 16th at 2pm.

 

Energy Efficiency, Property Management

About The Author

When Samantha isn’t writing for the blog or managing our HR like a champ, she studies Organizational Psychology at George Washington University.