Power Metering, Lighting Controls Reap Cost Savings

by | May 7, 2009

wattstopperlightingmanagementSmall to large businesses are finding that they can significantly cut their energy costs by implementing new technologies that monitor their energy use and deliver faster payoffs in investments.

As an example, ADMMicro, a provider of power metering equipment and services, installs submeters wherever the customer can save money by cutting power consumption, such as HVAC units, lighting systems and appliances, reports CNNMoney.com. Customers can view online power reports that are updated from every 10 seconds to once a day, depending on their preference, which alerts them if a piece of equipment exceeds the energy usage parameters set by the company, according to the article.

Over the past seven years, the Lynchburg, Va.-based company has offered turnkey submetering services that have helped a range of companies from franchised restaurant chains to bookstore chains. ADM’s technology monitors and controls energy use on the same circuit, keeping costs low, but until power rates started rising, it wasn’t worth installing one for each HVAC unit in a fast-food restaurant, for instance, reports CNNMoney.com.

Digital lighting management systems are also offering companies a greater return on their investments. For example, Watt Stopper/Legrand’s Digital Lighting Management (DLM) — an all-digital suite of plug-together lighting controls — automatically configures to the most energy-efficient operation based on the components in the system. Meeting or exceeding energy code requirements, the system can be used in both new construction and retrofit projects.

How it works: Each room or space in a building has its own control network where you connect room controllers, occupancy sensors, switches and photocells as needed.

The Plug n’ Go technology then recognizes what is connected and automatically configures the space to the most energy efficient operation. Cat 5e RJ45 cables are used to connect the room components for faster installation.

Watt Stopper says a workspace’s plug loads, left uncontrolled, consume about 12-14 percent of electricity in commercial buildings. DLM can provide plug load control, allowing building owners to further leverage code-compliant occupancy sensors and realize greater savings, according to the company.

For wireless and battery-less applications, the EnOcean Alliance, a consortium of companies dedicated to the advancement of sustainable building automation, says it can deliver buildings fitted with self-powered wireless controls that consume 30 percent less wire than wired solutions. The technology has also shortened payback periods and significantly reduced installation costs, according to the Boston-based consortium.

The savings in wire is attributed to the elimination of wire between controls (sensors and switches) and controlled devices (lights, heating units, air conditioning, etc.). In addition to being wireless, the controls operate without batteries, and instead use house energy harvesters.

The European Union has already discovered that by using new monitoring and control technologies it can significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The European Commission recently announced that it wants member states to use information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve energy efficiency. Studies show that ICT-enabled systems can reduce energy consumption in buildings by up to 17 percent and carbon emission in transport logistics by up to 27 percent.

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