Energy Saving Ideas for Energy and Water Waste in Buildings
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.
- Switching on all available lights when a single or task-specific light can do the job.
- Poorly maintained equipment can cause heating and cooling systems to run concurrently.
- 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.
- Sprinkler systems that are not correctly installed, aimed or gets vandalised; waters streets instead of gardens.
- Leaving lighting, heating, air-ventilation and cooling systems on regardless of building occupancy or time of day.
- Opening doors and windows to compensate for over-cooling/heating or opening doors in air-conditioned retails stores to draw in shoppers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Unbelievably in some instances space heaters are run in offices because of a too low setting on the central air conditioning.
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.