Friday, April 12, 2024

Reducing the presumptions of consumption

Adrian Barber explains how using real-time data, collected by Irus, from individual rooms, can help when auditing your energy use.

An Energy Audit is the collation of information regarding energy use, and the formulation of a plan to reduce consumption without unduly affecting the comfort of those within, or the performance of, a building.

A ‘walkabout’ helps to familiarise those conducting the audit with the layout of the building. A visual inspection helps pinpoint more obvious areas of wastage.

In service industries or accommodation sectors, most of the energy is used for heating and lighting. So, insight will be gained simply by sensing the hot and cold, and light and dark areas as the inspection progresses.

Consulting people on how they use the space will help to establish occupancy patterns. While taking note of grievances they may have with any discomfort they experience, provides better understanding of how the building is, or should be, performing.

Hard facts then come into play with analysis of energy bills and actual kWh of energy used over the course of a year. If data is available for multiple years, it is wise to calculate the average use, this will smooth out the weather-affected peaks and troughs.

By logging all these findings, and producing a plan of action, benchmarks can be set by which saving initiatives are measured.

Particularly in accommodation, it is worth assessing water consumption alongside space heating and lighting. A large proportion of energy use will be attributable to water heating.

The energy audit examines consumption throughout the year and identifies where savings can be made. This could become an annual event with markers put in place to analyse initiatives.

Of course, this is a simplification of the work that goes into an energy audit. But imagine if, rather than ad hoc inspections, you had minute-by-minute reporting, and an automated system that was constantly striving to reduce power input. Energy Managers would then be confident that their buildings were not sucking energy in unnecessarily.

So, how would a system such as this work? It would need to have outstations, or data collection points, in many and varied locations, feeding information to a centrally accessible hub. It would need to be capable of collecting a variety and handling a significant amount of data. It would have to process this data and produce meaningful reports quickly and accurately.

Standard reports include Energy use by type, device and room; Daily or half hourly On-Times; Average temperatures; and Alert, Occupancy or Presence reports. The mass of data is easily configured for more bespoke analysis to develop daily, monthly, seasonal or annual illustrations of an individual room’s performance, or that of the whole site.

But not just rooms! It measures the volume of water flowing into a building’s cylinders. Accurately reads and records the temperature of water, deep inside each tank. It monitors water temperature across the system, from incoming cold supply to hot and cold points-of-use. Alerts are sent, when leaking pipes or tank pressure cause escape of water. The major contributors to unnecessary consumption of both commodities are the lack of measuring, monitoring and ultimately control over use.

This may sound like a building management system (BMS)! But they tend to give a broad-brush indication of activity across the building. Irus drills down and produces a room-by-room picture, not only reporting on energy use within, but, dependent on occupancy patterns and environmental conditions, it controls input. This is effectively a minute-by-minute energy audit conducted 24/7, 365 days a year.

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