Article by Wendy McDougall

Energy costs are increasing without any sign of a ceiling cap in the near future. This is forcing everything that consumes energy - including homes condominiums , high-rise rentals, factories and schools to find ways of reducing consumption.

There are a few immediate factors that should be taken into account:
1. Building Envelope: Analyzing windows and structure to assess heat and air conditioning loss.

2. Water: Water Conservation

3. Boilers & Chillers: Old, out of date equipment will consume greater amounts of energy. Old technology on the larger 3 - phase motors lower the power factor, which in turn penalizes you on your electricity bill.

4. Lighting: Common areas, which are on 24-hours a day, should be high power factor. In suites, energy efficient lighting can be used to regulate the amount of energy used by tenants. As lighting is my experise, I will touch on the basic points.

It is wise to determine how efficiently the power in your building is currently utilized. This is referred to as the power factor. Power factor is the difference between Demand KW and Demand KVA on your billing cycle. As an example, if your Demand KW for the billing cycle is 800KW and your Demand KVA reading for the same billing cycle is 890 KVA, your power factor is 89.9% (demand KW divided by Demand KVA x 100). A power factor of 90% is considered within the acceptable range, however the closer you get to 100%, the lower your electricity invoice is.

Any power factor less than 100% means extra power is required to achieve the actual task at hand. This extra energy is known as reactive power, which is necessary to provide a magnetizing effect required by motors and other inductive loads to perform their desired functions. However, reactive power can also be considered wasted power and be an extra burden on the electricity supply.

Listed below are some benefits of correcting your power factor:
Power consumption reduced (lower bills)
Increases the KVA available from the existing supply
Transformer and distribution equipment losses reduced
Voltage drop reduction in long cables
Longer life on motors, etc.

When reducing the electric consumption on lighting fixtures in public areas it is prudent to ensure that all city lighting codes will be met when the job is complete. The City of Toronto requires 4.6 foot candle (50 lux) average in corridors, 4.6 foot candle (50 lux) maintained in stairwells, in the centre of drives and parking areas in underground garages. Outdoor parking and walkways require 1 foot candle (10 lux).

When using a compact flourescent fixture, the true savings are obtained when using high power factor or electronic ballasts.

For example :A single 13W compact Normal power factor ballast consumes $24.72/year; a single 13W compact High power factor ballast, consumes $11.91/year; a single 13W compact electronic consumes $9.11/year (Calculated using $0.08/kwh).

Manufacturers as of April 1st, 2005 have discontinued the T12 linear fluorescent ballast. After 2010, distributers will no longer be able to sell this ballast. The new technology will be electronic T8 or T5. The T8 system reduces energy consumption and increases the light levels by 10%.
It is also important to ensure that whatever configuration you choose is compatible with your emergency lighting system. High Power Factor compact fluorescents will work on some inverter systems and all generators, however, the older DC battery systems are not compatible with compact fluorescents.
An area that has been bypassed in recent years and has considerable savings are within the suites themselves. Owners cannot regulate how long tenants leave fixtures on, but they can make the fixtures more efficient by using electronic screw-in compacts or upgrading the current fixtures to compact fluorescent fixtures. For a minimum expense a switch motion sensor can be installed in washrooms, kitchens, and hallways where lights are prone to be left on. Motion sensors usually require a minimum load and are sometimes sensitive to electronic devices such as capacitors.

To help finance large projects there are currently two programs available. 

1. Enbridge Gas has a program that will pay $0.05 per cubic metre of gas savings for one to two measures used and $0.10 per cubic metre on gas savings on three or more measures used. The maximum grant per project is $30,000. The simple financial payback of a project must exceed 1.5 years; otherwise the project is not eligible for a grant. 

For further information on their programs: 
Telephone: 1 (866) 844-9994
Fax: (416) 495-8350
E-mail:[email protected]
Web site:

2. The Federal Government has a program that will allow up to $7.50 per gigajoule of annual energy savings or up to 25% of eligible costs-whichever amount is less - to a maximum of $250,000. For further information, visit their website at

On both programs a registration is required prior to commencement. Then an audit is required by a certified engineer and all incentives must be approved prior to any commencement. Any work already completed does not qualify for an incentive. Rebates on the engineering fees are offered up to a maximum of $5,000. Note that on smaller projects, the engineering fees can be greater than the incentive rebate.

Enbridge advises me that there is a possibility of incentives for small projects in the near future, so keep checking their Web site.
With energy costs on the rise, any reduction in power consumption is a benefit to your organization.

For More Information:

Wendy McDougall
(416) 881-1726

Back to Articles Menu