There’s no getting around one of energy efficiency’s biggest PR problems: it’s just not as sexy as some other sustainable energy choices. People love the idea of something like solar, producing their own clean energy — and for good reason! We love solar, too. But energy efficiency is frequently overlooked, especially on existing buildings, when the fact of the matter is that it is a great opportunity to make a quick impact with a ton of low-hanging fruit options. Often, small business owners think of that as something better suited for huge buildings or homes. But here’s something that might make them look a little closer: according to a study by the US Energy Information Administration, small commercial facilities typically use 30% more energy per square foot than big facilities. Smaller buildings generally do not have a facilities person looking over energy usage and planning long term energy saving strategies, and with little time available, easy energy conservation measures are never evaluated to determine the return on investment they can offer the business.
Powerhouse Dynamics is a company we work with to help small commercial buildings use energy monitoring and management to target the best ways to reduce energy costs. We’ve been proponents of energy monitoring for homes for a long time (see our guest blog post from Michael Chandler for more) and we’re glad to see this type of technology showing up for small commercial clients at a price that is affordable. The typical business spending more than $500 a month on energy bills can recapture the cost of installation in 2-5 years when identifying only 10% overall savings.
So what exactly are we talking about with this? Essentially, it’s an easy to install, easy to use device that helps businesses establish a baseline for their energy usage, identify specific problem areas and offer intelligent solutions for across-the-board reductions. Powerhouse Dynamics finds “phantom power” issues, lighting and plug load waste, Heating and Cooling system performance failures and will identify specific ways to shave peak demand loads.
One of Powerhouse Dynamic’s most telling examples had to do with a business whose single biggest energy user during off-hours was a piece of equipment they hardly ever used. It was something the company would never have been able to notice on their own, and unplugging it immediately helped them start saving $150 of wasted power each month.
This type of setup works well for any business under 20,000 square feet that uses a lot of electricity: medical offices, banks, law firms, car dealers, retailers and restaurants tend to be the ones who see the benefit quickest. The system includes an online energy monitoring portal, so facility managers or business owners can check out what’s working and what’s not at any time. Couple it with solar, and the web portal is even more powerful.
With energy costs on the rise, you shouldn’t ignore it. Energy monitoring may not be sexy, but Powerhouse Dynamics can take a currently unmanageable expense category and help turn it into a way to recapture lost profits that previously were being diverted to the power company. Send us a quick message to learn more — or if you have any questions please leave a comment below!
Evan Bickerstaff is an Energy Specialist with Southern Energy Management.