Summer is just around the corner. In an effort to maintain a comfortably cool environment during the heat, many people blast air conditioning and turn fans to high gear without giving it a second thought. By doing so, they rack up astronomical energy bills, much of which could be easily avoided.
To steer clear of these energy consumption traps, building managers must make sure they’re not falling victim to common energy efficiency myths. Our analysis has shown that lots of buildings are missing the mark on managing AC -- and that they can keep cool through the summer while paying less for it at the end of the month.
Myth 1: Air conditioning systems must run at all times to maintain a cool temperature.
The reality: when it comes to maintaining a cool environment, cycling air conditioning -- or leaving the AC on for shorter intervals but continuously running fans to circulate air -- is just as effective as constantly blasting it. Plus, consumers that adopt a cycling approach can save up to 20 percent on energy costs.
Myth 2: New LED lighting systems require less cooling and therefore are more energy-efficient.
The reality: while LED lighting is a great alternative to traditional systems (reducing annual power costs by as much as 80 percent), it doesn’t cost a penny to pull up the shades and let in the summer’s natural light. While the sun does bring in more infrared light, which can be transformed to heat load, by diffusing daylight, you can minimize heat gain while still bringing in visible light.
Myth 3: Having top-of-the-line equipment means building operators don’t need to worry about energy efficiency.
The reality: while many people assume that newer equipment is more efficient, the efficiency benefits do not come from those shiny new toys alone. Running the equipment in the right sequence at the right times is key to seeing results. Otherwise, a piece of equipment could actually be more expensive than its predecessor.
Myth 4: During the summer, building operators only need to worry about energy use related to cooling.
The reality: while employees may think they’re in the clear by just turning on the AC during the workday, they might not realize that a coworker downstairs, who has a tendency to get cold easily, is cranking up the heat. Simultaneous heating and cooling is extremely inefficient and drives energy bills through the roof. Through energy-use audits, building operators can identify where this inefficiency lies and communicate with tenants to ensure that they are avoiding unnecessary energy consumption and costs.
Myth 5: The building is so big that having one open window won’t impact its energy efficiency.
The reality: sure, having one window open in a giant, air-conditioned building won’t make a huge difference in its overall energy efficiency success. However, if one person doesn’t realize that ten other people also have their windows open -- and one window is left open during a long weekend -- tons of energy (and money) used to power the building’s AC systems goes to waste.
With technology that leverages data analytics, businesses can address these myths related to energy efficiency and make more informed decisions about how they’re using energy. As a result, they’ll be able to significantly cut energy consumption and slash utility bills just by making simple operational changes.
Swapnil Shah is co-founder CEO of FirstFuel, a building efficiency analytics firm.