Increasing energy efficiency allows consumers to perform their activities using less energy. The reduced energy use helps consumers to save on electricity costs while causing less damage to the environment. And the savings do not have to affect production, or reduce the operations that rely on electricity; instead, it involves reducing wastage and increasing efficiency.
An industrial, commercial or residential consumer can save electricity through better energy management. The energy management involves identifying how energy is used, and then optimizing this for maximum efficiency. Some of the things a consumer can do include changing daily habits, replacing inefficient electrical equipment, and educating users about the need to save energy.
How to Improve Energy Efficiency?
Electrical Energy Audit
The commonly used approach is to start with an energy audit. The auditing has several components that help in determining the connected load and behavior, and involves;
- Listing all the electrical load connected, their individual power ratings, and how and when each of the equipment is used.
- Monitoring how the energy is used, usually at regular intervals and then comparing with the load and activities and at that period under observation.
The results of an energy audit will clearly show the times with high demand and the corresponding loads, processes or activities. It will also help in identifying the equipment that is using the most energy.
Analyzing the energy audit results over time helps pinpoint the inefficient equipment, process, and systems – providing the consumer with the opportunity to replace or adjust how these are used. For older equipment, the consumer will probably consider upgrading or replacing the inefficient loads such as lights, motors, machines etc.
Some USESI companies such as HZ Electric, Electric Wholesalers and others have professional who assist their customers to perform the energy audits. These will carry out a thorough assessment of the installation, whether commercial or residential. The energy auditor analysis each room or section, processes, and activities to get the full picture of how each section, load or process is using energy. However, a consumer can also perform as a self-assessment to pinpoint areas for improvement without engaging a professional.
Simple ways of saving energy
There is a lot that users, employees and family members can do to reduce the energy usage in commercial places and homes. Most of these do not cost anything but can go a long way in saving energy and reducing the electricity bills significantly.
Changing the Type and Usage of electrical appliances
- Turn off or Unplug unused equipment
Equipment on standby uses some little current to keep the electronics awake. These amounts may seem small but when there are tens or hundreds of equipment on standby, the combined power becomes significant. Disconnecting these completely from power, either by unplugging or switching off the socket switch, can help save energy and money.
- Upgrade old and inefficient appliances with energy saving models
Some older electronics such as the CRT computer monitors and TVs, as well as other electrical appliances such as refrigerators consume much more power, several times the modern LED or smart refrigerators.
The cost of running these can amount to a lot of energy use and if possible, replacing them can help a consumer. For example, using a laptop instead of a desktop computer, replacing the old CRT TV with a LED TV, etc, are some of the things that can help.
- Running machines on full loads
Whenever possible, plan to use equipment such as washing machines and others at full load as opposed to using them several times a day or daily at lower capacity. The machines consume almost the same amount of power whether running quarter or full load.
Using the electrical equipment at full load will mean using the machine once or twice a week instead of daily at partial loads. Ironing many clothes in one go will also save energy, as opposed to ironing few clothes several times a week.
- Proper Equipment capacity and rating
Purchase equipment with the capacity you require and avoid acquiring larger or more powerful equipment than what you require. The extra capacity will consume more energy while not benefiting you in any way. In addition, it is always advisable to pay attention to not only the price tag on equipment, but also on the running costs in terms of energy and maintenance.
- All users should be advised to observe how they use the lights. The lights should be switched off when they are not needed as well as in unused or empty rooms.
- Replace the old light sources and fixtures with newer energy saving lighting systems such as the LEDs.
- Using the daylight instead of the powered lights. The users achieve this by opening curtains, as well as arranging the workplace or room in a way to get the best natural light.
- Use lighting control systems whenever possible. This can help in automatically switching off, or dimming the lights when there is no activity in the room. In addition, the daylight sensing controls can dim the lights based on the amount of daylight.
The heating, cooling and hot shower systems
- Reduce the frequency of using the heaters and air conditioners
- Advice the users to reduce the time they spend in the hot showers as well as the amount of water used. The more water that is used, the more electricity is required to pump and heat the water, hence more consumption.
- Ensure that the insulation in the building is perfect; otherwise, any leak will either allow heat to get out of the building or cold air to get into the building.
- Consider using programmable or automatic thermostats to control the heater at specific times.
- Lower the temperature setting by a few degrees
Other Activities for Energy Efficiency
There are other activities which do not use electricity directly, but their energy efficiency influences the energy usage. For example, when there are water leakages in the toilet cistern or in the kitchen, the electric pump will run longer or more often so as to compensate for the lost water.
The other actions which impact on energy use include car washing, gardening, cleaning the premises and more.
Most of these activities cannot be avoided; however, carrying them well will help in improving energy efficiency and reducing electricity bills.