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How to Reduce Commercial Energy Usage in the Winter Months

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Laura-Jane Miginiac

The U.S. EPA estimates that nearly 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Inefficient energy usage in lighting and space heating during the winter months results in increased energy consumption and carbon emissions by commercial establishments. Further, the associated price fluctuations in the energy market add to the unpredictability of energy costs for commercial buildings. Efficiency strategies can help facility and property managers reduce commercial energy usage to create sustainable buildings with lighter carbon footprints.

Strategies to Reduce Commercial Energy Usage in Winter

Before implementing Building Energy Management strategies, conduct an energy audit to determine the baseline energy usage. Energy consumption assessments can help facility managers plan ways to use energy more efficiently and improve cost savings. Outlined below are a few strategies to reduce commercial energy usage during the winter months.     

Programming Thermostat

Programming the thermostat to set a comfortable working temperature in the range of 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit presents a straightforward way to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings. Estimates suggest that a commercial building can save up to 3% of energy for every degree the thermostat is lowered in the winter. While programmable thermostats can automatically adjust temperatures to preset levels, commercial premises can further benefit from smart thermostats that analyze occupancy patterns—as well as weather and system performance data—to optimize comfort and conserve energy.     

Retrofitting Lighting

Retrofitting incandescent lights in exit signs with LED fixtures can reduce sign costs by 95%. Apart from reducing lighting costs, LED lamps also decrease the load on HVAC units because they generate less heat. The prolonged lifespan of LED lights helps improve the operational costs of commercial buildings. Along with retrofitted LED fixtures, occupancy sensors can prove an effective way to reduce lighting costs by up to 40%.    

Eliminating Phantom Electric Loads

Phantom loads can be eliminated by simply turning off the electrical appliances when they are not in use. Setting standby times for electrical equipment or using smart power strips can also ensure that electrical appliances are not drawing unnecessary power.   

Reducing Peak Demand

Reducing the peak demand load is challenging for commercial buildings. Installing ENERGY STAR-certified equipment can reduce the base load of energy used at all times and bring down the entire demand curve. Peak shaving can also be achieved through energy storage. Charged batteries can be used when peak demand is likely to occur, reducing the amount of power taken from the grid. Relying on alternative energy such as solar panels to generate a portion of the total energy can also reduce power draw from the grid.  

Installing Building Management System 

A building management system (BMS) can help facility and property managers monitor the conditions within a commercial facility and accordingly control the operations of HVAC and lighting equipment. A facility or property manager can adjust major equipment setpoints during the winter to maximize energy efficiency and cost savings. However, a significant drawback of BMS is the need for manual intervention and human oversight to make adjustments to the setpoints as per the weather. Also, the basic equipment faults detected by a BMS generate false and unprioritized alarms that delay determining the primary point of failure in an interconnected system of equipment, sensors, and devices in commercial buildings.  

Integrating an intelligent building management platform with the building management system can address these drawbacks while optimizing the energy consumption for day-to-day utility operations. 

Integrating an Intelligent Building Management Platform With BMS to Improve Energy Efficiency

When an intelligent building management platform is deployed on top of a BMS, setpoints can be monitored 24/7 to evaluate the system controls. As a result, facility and property managers can schedule equipment based on events such as weather, operating hours, and holiday schedules. For commercial premises, these automatic adjustments based on real-time sensor data are critical for energy usage reductions. 

onPoint, an intelligent building management platform, provides a centralized and user-friendly interface that allows facility managers to address concerns regarding equipment energy efficiency and occupant comfort in commercial buildings. By integrating intelligent analytics and machine learning, the platform provides deep insights into building system functionality, enabling facility managers to optimize operations and reduce commercial energy usage in the winter. The advanced diagnostics and prioritized alarms address the causes of the diminished equipment performance, facilitating proactive maintenance in complex building systems. With onPoint, commercial buildings can be transformed into energy-efficient hubs with healthy and comfortable environments for occupants.        

To learn more about how onPoint can help reduce commercial energy usage in winters, watch this 5-minute demo video.   



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