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Energy saving ideas for buildings

Energy Saving Ideas for Energy and Water Waste in Buildings

energy saving tips for buildings and properties

It is always useful to receive energy saving ideas. With an electricity tariff increase looming in July and Eskom applying for additional increases, it is ever more important to look at where we are wasting resources. With our water resources also feeling more and more strain it is advisable to look at your water usage while addressing energy wastage.

The privileged amongst us has become used to the luxury of having power on demand and water on tap. We should be thankful for the sprawling infrastructure networks provided by the utilities. The problem is that we take for granted the availability of these resources. While we are becoming increasingly aware of the preciousness of the resources we consume, a huge amount is still being wasted through bad habits, poor maintenance and ineffective technologies. Any energy saving ideas that can change the way we think an act should be heard.

It is estimated that anything from 30 to 50% of energy and water supplied to a building gets wasted. When you consider how many buildings are supplied with these basic utilities, you can imagine how much of what is supplied ends up wasted in terms of Megawatts and Litres.

Efficiency of energy and water usage starts with awareness. A quick survey can point out the obvious, but real data is required to identify ways in which operational and behavioural interventions can make buildings more efficient. Increasingly commercial building owners and managers (big power users) are using technology like online electricity metering and monitoring to aid in managing the usage of energy in their buildings. The data collected and effective monitoring of the electricity usage data helps to reduce energy usage in building and also helps flag issues before they become problems.

Even though we are building and designing and operating buildings more efficiently every year, there are a few things we as individuals can do to cut our energy and water consumption. Here is a list of things people do that wastes energy and water everyday:

  • Cleaning side-walks, driveways and paving with water hoses instead of sweeping with a broom.

    energy saving ideas include not wasting water to clean paving

    It is incredibly wasteful to use water for cleaning dust.

  • Switching on all available lights when a single or task-specific light can do the job.

    energy saving ideas include switching off lights

    Keeping lights on when they are not needed adds to your electricity bill.

  • Poorly maintained equipment can cause heating and cooling systems to run concurrently.

    energy saving ideas include not having your heating and cooling fight each other

    Poorly maintained automated heating and cooling appliances can battle each other.

  • Lighting is a big guzzler of electricity overall. Lighting is responsible for almost one-fourth of electricity consumption worldwide. Still, lights are being kept on all day when sunlight is enough to provide enough illumination.

    energy saving ideas will have you switching off lights when outside sunlight is sufficient

    Electric lights in a space sufficiently lit by natural light is extremely inefficient.

  • Sprinkler systems that are not correctly installed, aimed or gets vandalised; waters streets instead of gardens.

    energy and water saving idea is to make sure you are only watering plants

    Huge amounts of water is wasted every day from automated irrigation systems not being maintained properly.

  • Leaving lighting, heating, air-ventilation and cooling systems on regardless of building occupancy or time of day.

    energy saving idea for commercial buildings, switch off non-essential lights and appliances after-hours

    Keeping non-essential lights switched off during closed hours is an obvious energy saving idea for businesses.

  • Opening doors and windows to compensate for over-cooling/heating or opening doors in air-conditioned retails stores to draw in shoppers.

    energy saving idea is to keep track of your heat settings

    Setting heating and cooling systems to extremes uses an inordinate amount of energy.

  • Appliances on standby power (vampire appliances) can contribute up to 10% of a middle-class house monthly electrical bill. These devices include computers, printers, phones and other electrical equipment. Still people are prone to keep these appliances plugged in and on standby during prolonged periods of inactivity.

    energy saving idea - unplug  your appliances

    Vampire devices consume a constant trickle of electricity.

  • Using irrigation systems during rainstorms or during the warmest period (sunniest) of the day. Watering during a downpour is obviously wasteful and watering during the warmest part of a day causes water to evaporate before it can be absorbed by the soil. Up to 25% of water can be lost to evaporation in this fashion.

    energy saving ideas include saving water by better timing of usage

    Timing of irrigation can have a big impact on how much is used and how much is wasted.

  • Unbelievably in some instances space heaters are run in offices because of a too low setting on the central air conditioning.

    not having your workers go too cold or hot is a good energy saving idea

    Keep your central air-conditioning system at a neutral setting. Not too hot or cold.

These are only a few examples of where energy and water gets wasted in buildings. Should you recognise any of these, a behavioural opportunity exists to waste less and reduce your utility bill. By being aware of the consequences of our actions we all have the ability to make an impact. A huge commercial building with thousands of employees all pulling together to make a conscious efforts can save hundreds of thousands of rands.

Next time you do a double-take at your utility bill, take a look around and see where small changes could be made to make a big difference to your bottom line. With a Power-Star online meter in place and remote energy monitoring capturing data, you can do even more to reduce your energy usage.

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