Whether you are a landlord or a homeowner, it is important to understand how your building loses money by wasting energy. As recurring expenses, energy bills can add up heavily especially in a big building like an office block or warehouse. It means less rental income for you as a landlord. Homeowners can realize savings as well by plugging energy waste. There are several ways in which buildings waste energy which can also be looked at as loss of money:
Heating costs take up the biggest percentage of the energy bill. A building with leakage allows heated air to escape and cold air to get in, which necessitates constant heating hence higher energy bills.
Leakages will be found in gaps around the edges of doors and windows. This is especially in older buildings where strict building codes and precision measurement of building materials was absent. Gaps in the ceiling fixtures also allow infiltration of cold air which can have a “stacking effect.” This is where colder air which is denser pushes warmer air down and out of the building through gaps and cracks in the foundation.
Lighting energy wastage
Lighting wastage occurs in three ways. The first is the usage of lighting bulbs that waste energy. These are the older bulbs that relied on heating filaments to produce light. Lighting energy can also be wasted by using bulbs of the wrong wattage rating, where there is more light than needed. Energy is also wasted when lighting is left on unnecessary, for example, security lights during the day.
Appliance energy wastage
Devices that rely on electricity in a home or office will waste energy when they are left powered up when not in use. They will also draw a residual charge when they are in standby mode.
How to fix energy wastage
- Proper insulation – Insulation plugs the gaps that allow air leakage. Proper attic, wall and basement insulation can significantly reduce heating costs.
- High-tech thermostats – Programmable thermostats ensure that heating is done only when necessary. Modern systems will have sensors to heat rooms only when there are people in them.
- Better lighting bulbs – Sodium bulbs are being phased away in favor of the more energy efficient LED bulbs that are dimmable.
- Automated lighting – Automation lighting systems are programmable to light areas at specific times or when they sense a presence.
- Energy rated appliances – Energy rating shows how efficiently a device uses energy. Many appliances use the ENERGY STAR rating. Pick only appliances that have been rated favorably.
- Intelligent power adapters – These adapters control appliance energy use and switch off when they sense a standby mode or powering off.
Remember that making a home green involves more than conserving energy. Save much more by also conserving water and implementing the 3R’s; reduce, reuse, recycle.
Heritage Grand is a picturesque strata nestled in Port Moody, British Columbia, and consists of a collection of 158 spacious townhouses built in 1996 with shared underground parking. It’s strata council was increasingly concerned about the escalating Hydro bills and constant budget overruns. It turned to Chelsea Leask, Property Manager at Profile Properties, for help. With insights and valuable experience gained from prior cost reduction projects, Chelsea contacted Titan Enersave and requested an energy audit and LED lighting retrofit proposal which was eventually presented and approved at Heritage Grand’s AGM in March 2017.
- Following are highlights of the lighting retrofit of Heritage Grand which all property managers and administrators should find instructional and serve as a useful guide when advising their strata clients regarding cost savings opportunities:
- –Annual energy savings of 162,000 KWh (972,000 KWh over 6 years) representing a 54% reduction in lighting energy consumption.
- –Annual energy cost savings of $16,200 ($96,000 over 6 years)
- –Annual maintenance cost savings of $3,600 ($21,600 over6 years)
- –Investment required: $46,897 (Turnkey. All inclusive. Including taxes)
- –Investment per strata unit: $297 each.
- –Investment payback period: 2.27 years
The strata’s Treasurer sent the following note to all parties involved in the project: I would like to acknowledge how pleased we are with the new lighting installation. It has made such a difference to our complex and have received many compliments regarding this upgrade. Thank you.” Priceless !
Property managers need to become proactive in this area. It does not require much extra effort on their part to get quotes from a few retrofit vendors, who will perform the energy audit at no cost. The excuse that “it’s not my job” or “i’m too busy” will not cut it. As gatekeepers, Property managers have an obligation and duty to educate their strata clients on cost saving opportunities. Besides that, think of the huge impact on the environment from upgrading a single high rise building. In the example above, nearly 1 million KWh of hydro energy will be saved over the next 6 years, which is something to be proud really proud of, n’est-ce pas ?
Other items of interest:
In a typical high rise, the parking area consistently accounts for 60%+ of the building’s total lighting consumption, representing the most significant opportunity for energy cost reduction.
Also keep in mind that lighting, which is only one component of a strata’s Hydro bill, usually accounts for about 50% of total common area energy consumption. Furnace, elevator, HVAC, air circulation fans, etc, account for the balance.
Anil Mehra, CA,CPA,
Energy Star, the energy audit experts, say that buildings account for 50% of the energy used in the US. The unfortunate fact is that $0.30 of every dollar spent on expenditure is lost through inefficiencies. About 30% of the energy used in big buildings is lost. Older buildings are especially prone to energy leakages.
How big buildings waste energy
- Poor energy controls
Most buildings with several sectors consuming different energy cannot tell which sector is consuming how much energy. This is due to the lack of sub-metering. This also means that people working in those buildings cannot see the direct correlation between their activities and energy use. Wasteful habits are common which include leaving the lights on at night, leaving computers and other machines on stand-by, and unnecessary use of hot water taps.
- Inefficient HVAC working
No matter how efficient a HVAC system is rated, there are things that invalidate this high efficiency. It is common to see people switching on the AC while the windows are open, or while direct sunlight is still coming into the room. Gaps in the buildings structure also leak in cold air making the heater work harder than it should. Clogged filters also require the HVAC to work harder to move the air.
- Old elevators
Old hydraulic type elevators that are over 20 years old had bigger motors that worked slower. The motors had a power rating of 50 HP unlike modern elevators that have smaller but more powerful motors. The higher horsepower rating of the hydraulic elevators is lost through inefficiencies.
How to save energy and money in buildings
- Shading systems
Intelligent blinds can be installed to give shade automatically according to the glare of sunlight. This reduces the working load of the HVAC.
- Intelligent lighting
Good lighting controls can utilize daylight and artificial lighting more efficiently. Lights come and vary in intensity depending on the brightness of daylight. Wall switch dimmers can also be installed in areas with a lot of natural lighting. Dimmers have been shown to reduce power consumption by bulbs as much as 50% while extending their lifetimes.
- Occupancy sensors
These sensors turn off the power when the area they cover is not occupied. These sensors work well for areas that are infrequently used like storage rooms, conference rooms and the restrooms.
- Load controls
Plug load controls help eliminate vampire power draws in working areas. They will cut off power to machines on stand-by mode when these areas are not occupied.
Doing an energy audit is the surest way of identifying how a big building is losing energy and the correct remedies for these leakages.