When you use less energy, you conserve it. Simply turning off or unplugging appliances not in use is a good way to start. But it’s easier said than done in bigger facilities, buildings, and organizations. Increasing energy prices make it even more difficult for them to keep utility bills under operational budgets. They use energy conservation measures (ECM) to design energy efficiency or energy savings projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, be environment-friendly, and save money. If you’re looking to become energy efficient, this article is for you.
What are energy conservation measures?
Energy conservation measures are initiatives or actions you undertake to improve the energy efficiency of specific energy-consuming assets (ECAs), your facility’s overall efficiency, and environmental rating. These measures can include equipment repair, upgrades, replacements, or retrofits. Implementing ECM requires electrical and mechanical engineering expertise. Companies generally hire skilled contractors and subcontractors to design and install energy-saving solutions.
Using light-emitting diodes (LED) technology is an excellent example of an energy conservation measure. LED lights offer output similar to compact fluorescent lights but consume much less power.
Examples of energy conservation measures (for homes and organizations)
- Unplugging electronics when not in use
- Using energy-efficient light bulbs
- Adjusting thermostats
- Planting trees or installing shading devices
- Using natural light instead of artificial light
- Fixing leaks
- Washing clothes in cold water
- Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems
- Energy management systems and monitoring
- Encouraging employees to reduce energy consumption
- Implementing sustainable practices in the supply chain
- Installing solar panels
- Installing a wind turbine
- Geothermal heating and cooling systems
- Energy-efficient appliances
- Smart home technology
- Electric or hybrid vehicles
Importance of energy conservation
Energy conservation is incredibly important for:
- Bringing down utility costs.
- Utilizing energy more efficiently with energy monitoring.
- Minimizing reliance on non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels.
- Eliminating extraction of natural resources such as lithium or oil.
- Reducing the amount of greenhouse gas your facility releases.
Limiting energy usage impacts the environment positively. For example, burning fossil fuels like coal releases carbon dioxide into the environment. The toxic air then causes acid rain, soot, and smog, along with severe health-related conditions like congenital disabilities or cancer. Energy conservation also helps the world fight climate change and global warming which causes hurricanes, seal level changes, hurricanes, cold snaps, and melting glaciers. It’s high time you consider energy efficiency upgrades if you haven’t already. Below are some of the benefits you can expect.
Commercial building owners
If you own a commercial building, you can significantly reduce energy and water bills with energy conservation measures. They also experience lower maintenance costs because of upgraded equipment, fixtures, and fittings. Energy efficiency upgrades help them extend the useful life of assets and accomplish corporate, social, and environmental responsibility goals.
Organizations or individuals managing property portfolios use performance-based energy efficiency systems to boost asset value and return on investment for owners. Plus, they can easily attract tenants ready to pay higher for higher quality.
Commercial building tenants
Tenants living in energy-efficient buildings can easily minimize their exposure to fluctuating energy processes and save money on energy bills. An energy-efficient building also lets them enjoy a productive working environment.
6 steps for planning energy conservation measures
Keep these six steps in mind if you’re looking to achieve business goals with energy efficiency plans.
Find the energy baseline
An energy baseline is the amount of energy your facility uses today. Energy usage varies depending on both internal factors (building operations) and external conditions (weather or electricity rates). Knowing the actual energy consumption is key to designing the blueprint of an energy efficiency project and estimating savings. Plus, the knowledge of internal and external factors helps you make operating hour changes or equipment addition or removal decisions.
Calculate savings from energy conservation measures
The amount you’ll save depends on the energy baseline. Accurate savings calculations will also help you find the best energy conservation measures. It’s best to work with a qualified professional for calibrating these calculations and choosing the right measures.
Select the equipment for your energy efficiency plan
Consider exploring all options from HVAC operation to water heating while assessing equipment suitable for the energy efficiency plan. This is where you think of the comfort levels of tenants, productivity, and cost savings. Identify what upgrades will help your business achieve its energy efficiency goals and focus on them.
Design, install, and verify energy conservation measures
At this stage, you’ll need to work with a contractor to install the energy conservation measures. Make sure you comply with local laws during the installation. Also, get a third party to review the construction as well.
Start monitoring equipment performance
The post-installment period is all about training facility staff with an O&M manual and monitoring equipment performance. Consider creating a maintenance schedule after discussing it with the contractor.
Follow a measurement and verification plan
A measurement and verification plan documents project goals and lay out ways to monitor issues. This plan will help you accomplish the projected energy savings. Consider keeping this plan workable around the schedules of employees and owners.
Energy conservation ideas: What can you do to play a role in conserving energy?
1. Adjust day-to-day behavior: Turn off energy-intensive appliances when not in use and consider purchasing energy-efficient products.
2. Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs that feature ENERGY STAR labels.
3. Use smart power strips that prevent standby energy waste by shutting off power to electronics, not in use.
4. Install a smart thermostat to automatically turn off healing and cooling when you’re away.
5. Minimize water heating expenses with ENERGY STAR-certified heat pump water heaters.
6. Buy energy-efficient windows instead of single-pane windows to minimize the thermal energy that enters your home.
7. Use HVAC systems with higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) ratings.
8. Seal air leaks to minimize heating and cooling expenses.
9. Replace or clean air filters to reduce household energy consumption.
Energy management trends in 2023
Globally, industries are implementing energy conservation measures to transition to green energy entirely. These industries promote and use energy efficiency means to accomplish a sustainable energy supply and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Below are the key energy savings and efficiency trends we see in 2023.
- Businesses are striving to cut annual energy consumption and adopt energy-saving measures.
- Commercial buildings are relying on energy retrofits and building information modeling technology to keep buildings energy-efficient.
- Commercial plants and facilities aim to achieve almost zero energy consumption with renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.
- There’s an increasing use of smart assistants that help people change energy consumption habits.
- Companies are also looking to recycle wet organic waste into renewable energy.
Energy conservation vs. energy efficiency
Energy conservation: involves using less energy by changing individual habits and behaviors. For example, turning off or shutting down energy appliances not in use is an example of energy conservation.
Energy efficiency: is all about using innovative technology to perform the same task with less energy. The goal is to eliminate energy waste. For example, switching from energy-intensive lights or HVAC units to LEDs or smart thermostats is an example of energy efficiency.
Acing energy conservation measures with energy management software
You can’t turn sustainability into a habit without a system. For example, how do you track whether energy initiatives cause spikes or bring down bills? What’s the best way to optimize energy management while handling maintenance workflows? Can you prevent energy disasters without a fault detection and diagnostics system?
You need an IoT-powered sustainability management software to answer these questions surely, and make data-driven decisions without a continuous sustainability solution that lets you break down energy usage trends, and energy costs, or run varied parameter checks.
Energy conservation offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, environmental protection, and improved indoor air quality. By reducing energy consumption, we can conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create a more sustainable future. Additionally, implementing energy-efficient practices can lead to lower energy bills, increased productivity, and a more comfortable working environment. Energy conservation is a critical aspect of creating a sustainable future, and everyone can play a role in reducing energy consumption.