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Don’t lose your Cool – Chart your path to Summer Savings

June 20, 2016

Charge your path to summer savings

(This article is part of the Roadmap 2 Summer Series. Click here to read last week’s article.)

Consider this data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): Commercial buildings in the United States paid a total of $14.2 billion in monthly electricity costs in July 2015, compared to the $11.4 billion paid for electricity in January 2015. With the increased demand for cooling, July and August typically bring the highest electricity bills of the year for commercial customers.

But don’t lose your cool. From small improvement projects to large energy strategies, there are steps you can take to reduce costs during the summer months, transforming your building into an asset that can make you more profitable.

Drive efficiency with automation

If your building systems are operating less than optimally, you are likely spending more on energy than necessary. Technology advancements available in today’s building automation systems (BAS) make it easier than ever to manage your building smartly and more efficiently.

A BAS provides broad insight into how your building and equipment are running, and offers the ability to integrate multiple building systems so they can be controlled by one single web-enabled interface for optimized performance.

If your building already has a BAS, don’t lose sight of the benefits of setpoint temperature changes and the easy control over system overrides. Making sure your BAS is optimized for your building’s summer use is key to meeting occupant comfort expectations as efficiently as possible.

BAS solutions from Trane also enable the use of various energy management solutions, providing features such as real-time monitoring of a building’s energy-related data, energy analytics and automated fault detection. This link to additional, proactive intelligent services makes it easier to monitor data and gain insights that help you drive improvement efforts.

Assess your building’s energy consumption

Visualizing how your building uses energy is an intangible concept that has a very tangible impact on your business. With a clearer energy picture, you can see the potential for operational improvement and make informed decisions that impact your bottom line.

You most likely already have meters in place providing the necessary data for an energy assessment. With Trane, you can put that data to work.

Because how your building is used may change in the summer — with more variation in hours of operation, for example — getting an in-depth analysis of your building’s energy profile can be especially helpful to point out inconsistencies or areas for improvement.  

This detailed information helps ensure you are starting your building at the proper time each day — and not running building systems longer than necessary. Using energy insights to set building schedules based on how your building is actually being used helps you avoid excessive energy use, for efficient operation.

Optimize equipment and systems

Improperly maintained equipment is less efficient and consumes more energy, especially at peak loads in the summer. Taking the time to make sure building equipment and systems are optimized and utilizing the proper setpoints can help you control costs.

For example, pulling in too much outside air during the summer can be detrimental to building efficiency. Making an easy adjustment to the building’s outside air intake can remedy this.  Check that CO2 sensors and outside air dampers and actuators are functioning properly.

In lower humidity areas especially, indoor temperature setpoints can often be set a few degrees higher in the summer without compromising occupant comfort. This has the potential to provide energy savings of 1 to 3 percent for each degree increase.

There are many strategies that provide significant energy savings and offer payback of one to four years. Combining numerous energy saving strategies can provide you with savings up to 25 percent.

Consider these examples:

  • Chiller-tower optimization delivers the right condenser water temperature to the chiller for the right building load, using more accurate controls.  This strategy can save 5 to 7 percent of chiller tower fan energy.  In many buildings, tower temperature setpoints can also be adjusted in the summer to provide savings.
  • Implementing variable frequency drives on pumps and fans can save 20 to 45 percent of pump energy. 
  • Utilizing proper time of day scheduling conserves fan power, minimizes ventilation heating and cooling, and reduces heat gains and losses through exterior surfaces. 
  • Ventilation optimization uses a combination of control strategies to provide the right amount of ventilation air necessary for operating conditions and can save up to 25 percent of an HVAC system’s energy. Getting those last few pieces of energy-consuming equipment under control is greatly simplified with wireless controls technology.  Control of your whole building lets your BAS automate control decisions on peak demand days and avoid big demand charges.

Stay cool this summer — and avoid higher energy costs — by having a plan in place and making sure your building equipment is optimized. Trane Building Professionals can help you chart your path for summer energy savings.

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