Benefits of Submetering Office Spaces
When thinking about submetering, images of large, industrial complexes or manufacturing facilities may come to mind. While it's true that these places can benefit greatly from a comprehensive submetering program, the small or midsized office spaces can deploy submetering to greatly reduce total energy usage while simultaneously being a source of company pride and corporate responsibility.
What Uses the Most Energy in a Commercial Office?
Even though they are not full of industrial equipment, like motors, presses, metal working tools, or other heavy machinery, office spaces can still consume a significant amount of energy and warrant careful monitoring.
Computers and lighting both contribute heavily to high consumption and are often overlooked by employees who may not realize how much energy they consume.
In addition, the HVAC system can often be the highest energy consumer in an office. These systems can run continuously, either intentionally or by mistake, so the system configuration and schedule lead to excessive energy usage.
Using Submetering to Monitor Office Energy Consumption
Submetering can be strategically deployed at an office's electrical panel to track energy consumption around the clock. By using a multi-circuit submeter, energy consumption can be broken down by circuit, giving a clear idea of usage by department, floor, area, or specific load. Here are some of the ways office submetering can be useful.
1. Track Office Space Usage Patterns
Even though a monthly power bill will tell you the total energy consumed by an office, it will not break down the consumption by time of day or by department. The only way to get that level of detail is through submetering. By analyzing the data collected by a submeter, it is easy to determine the consumption is unusually high during off hours for lighting, peripheral equipment, and more. For example, if the lighting is left on overnight, it's easy to make a quick adjustment to correct the problem to save energy.
2. Office Heating and Cooling Systems
Since most energy goes to power HVAC equipment, it makes sense to carefully track its consumption. Submetering HVAC systems can uncover excessive runtimes, maintenance issues, or scheduling problems. For instance, if the system is excessively cooling the office over the weekend or keeping the heat running through the night, the schedule should be adjusted to save energy. Submetering this system not only helps identify the problem but quantifies energy savings and helps to calculate the value of expensive maintenance plans or equipment upgrades.
3. Reduce Peak Demand Charges
Offices located in regions that implement peak demand charges can greatly benefit from tracking their consumption and understanding their load profile. By knowing how the office consumes energy as well as real-time consumption for a given timeframe, it is possible to adjust operations that reduce an office's peak demand and avoid expensive penalty fees.
4. Engage Employees
Employee behaviour has a direct impact on office energy consumption and keeping employees engaged in efficiency initiatives is key. While educating employees about turning off lights or unplugging equipment is a great first step, consider a submetering system with an easily accessible dashboard where employees can view real-time consumption, compare the current month with previous times, see historical trends, and more. By viewing the information as it happens, employees can take ownership of their consumption and pride in conservation efforts.
5. Prove Corporate Responsibility
If company efforts include energy reduction or “going green,” a submeter is the ideal tool for proving that an office's strategies for cutting energy usage are working. By tracking individual loads, it is easy to show how specific actions have had a direct impact on saving energy and showcase that information to customers or investors who may have their own initiatives for working with environmentally responsible companies.
Although office submetering may have an initial upfront cost, it is the best way to carefully track consumption and make intelligent energy decisions. Using the data collected through comprehensive submetering can help uncover inefficient equipment, reduce peak demand charges, and result in higher employee engagement in green initiatives.