by Mike Arkless
Not only does energy efficiency make business sense, it can help save you money. Recent spikes in oil and gas due to a number of factors, including weather, have stimulated a dialogue in the media and business environment about the security and availability of energy supplies. With most experts predicting that natural gas prices will continue to climb, many property managers are choosing to enter into a fixed rate natural gas contract with an energy retailer to reduce fluctuations in their cost base.
In addition to purchasing energy effectively, property managers are exhibiting a renewed interest in maximizing savings by reducing energy consumption and costs through enhanced equipment, improved system operations and the implementation of new processes and behaviours.
Analyzing the Situation
Energy efficiency or even the investigation of efficiency measures starts at the same place by measuring and analyzing your building's current energy usage. A company like Direct Energy can provide a complete energy audit and can translate that information into a proposal outlining concepts and designs that fit a budget.
An energy audit provides valuable information about how and when you consume energy as well as a base year upon which you can effectively measure the results of any energy efficiency program.
Once an audit is completed, an opportunity assessment, providing a technical and financial analysis, will then show you what your challenges are and what a total energy solution could do for your bottom line. Recommendations may involve the way you buy your energy commodities (gas, electricity and water); how your equipment consumes and converts that energy into a useful form; how you use that energy (heating, cooling, lighting, comfort, maintenance and operation) and finally, how the by-products (CFCs, PCBs, others) are disposed to comply with government regulations.
With that assessment in hand you can prioritize recommendations, make a business case and source funding.
A Preventative Approach
The maintenance of HVAC equipment and systems are often one of the last thoughts on a property manager's mind. However, not only does regular maintenance of that equipment help to prevent breakdowns, it can also increase energy efficiency, which in turn can help you better manage your energy costs.
Commercial and industrial operators may achieve cost savings through a comprehensive preventative maintenance plan that helps avoid inefficiencies and wasted energy such as the following:
-Dirty filters and coils in air handlers can result in 25 per cent energy waste
-A 1/8” soot build-up in a boiler can cause it to use more than five per cent more energy;
-A 1/8” scale build-up in a cooling system can result in energy waste of almost 25 per cent;
-A thermostat malfunction of 3 degrees can lead to a 30 per cent waste in energy.
A Technological Edge
With technology, you can control and adjust operations remotely. This provides opportunities to reduce energy consumption with efficient scheduling and benchmarking, reliably manage building comfort levels, help ensure optimum facility performance and enjoy the benefits of decreased equipment downtime.
Through the use of remote troubleshooting, monitoring and dispatch capabilities, you can identify and resolve issues quickly, often before building users or tenants notice a change in comfort levels.
Using energy information tools such as Enterprise Central, a web-based portal developed by Direct Energy Business Services, you can provide subscribed customers with accurate and up-to-date energy information to help maximize their energy performance. Customers can choose components to access everything from energy consumption data to taking real-time control over key systems including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting across a single site or multiple facilities to taking real-time control over key systems including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting across a single site or multiple facilities.
The Final Word
Controlling your energy costs needs to be approached in a holistic way. From increasing budgeting stability through gas price contracts to ensuring existing equipment is maintained effectively, the sum of all parts can equal long-term savings.