How much you pay for your business' electric utility bill is determined by a number of factors. Most of us are familiar with actual electric consumption being a factor, but many are unaware of an equally important factor called peak demand. Peak demand is the greatest amount of electrical consumption your building requires at any single point in time. The more electric consuming devices and systems you have running at the same time, the higher your demand. More importantly, devices containing power supplies, compressors, motors, or pumps require a higher initial amount of electric to operate until they are up to speed or capacity. An example would be an air conditioner or furnace. On the air conditioner the compressor has to power up along with a motor for the blower which pushes the cooled air through your ducts. With the furnace, even gas furnaces has blowers to push the heated air through the ducts.
The reason all of this applies to most businesses is because the majority of businesses fall within the General Service tariffs (rate plans) for their electric service. These tariffs charge customers based on both electric consumption and peak demand, so it's advantageous to get both factors as low as you can to reduce your bills. The best way to obtain an accurate picture of the devices and systems within your building and how they affect your consumption and demand is by having an energy monitoring system installed. These systems collect real-time data on the electric usage in the building. Once you have the information you need to make the changes to benefit your bills, you can take the next step by having a building management system installed. These systems can control electrical devices and the mechanical systems in your building. They automate the turning on and off of devices and systems based on a combination of sensors, schedules, and events. By doing so you ensure when these devices don't need to be running that they are turned off or setback to more efficient settings...automatically. They can also stage the turning on of devices and systems which provides a lower increase in demand compared to uncontrolled environments. To lower or limit your building's peak demand, take the following steps:
- Replace old or less efficient devices and systems with more efficient products
- Remove or turn off unnecessary or unused devices
- Install an energy monitoring system
- Install building management systems which can control electric devices (computers, printers, copiers, faxes, vending machines, etc.) and mechanical systems (lighting, HVAC, irrigation, security, etc.)
You should always consult a professional before making changes in your building or its systems. Mechanical systems are complex and require trained professionals to properly work on them. A reputable energy efficiency company, such as EZ-Integration Incorporated, will be able to identify the best courses of action for your building and provide the products and expertise required to implement those plans.