Greater understanding.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:24

A Matter of Perspective

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Prior to my recent relocation to the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, my wife and I rented a house from her brother. It was a pretty sweet deal, especially for a married couple with aspirations to save up for their own house...



       Little did I know how expensive energy bills could be! So when we relocated, we were quite pleased to see that even after this past winter (which was a doozy), the energy bills were considerably lower than our previous house. To be exact, they are roughly 75% less than what they were! That’s pretty darn good, considering the previous house had a newer, higher efficiency furnace, and was smaller. So what could cause such a drastic difference? It turns out that the basement and first floor of the old house were not insulated, allowing all the heat/air conditioning to go directly through and out.  Mom always told me not to try and condition the outdoors… and she was right. Paid some stupid tax on that one... SO, when a friend and I were discussing energy consumption, and he heard the amount I pay now, he was flabbergasted… to my astonishment, he thought I was paying FAR too much!  Hmmm…


        After further evaluation of my current home, I found I had a lot of incandescent lights, bad switches that never broke contact, improperly wired cieling fans that were perpetually drawing juice, a furnace older than I am, and a bunch of other little things here and there.I would NEVER have noticed that I could save more money without my friend’s perspective.  The same goes for ALL existing buildings, residential, commercial, and industrial. If we are not constantly keeping a lookout for ways to save and improve existing energy use, we can easily be duped into thinking we have a good energy profile. We also need to be talking to the right individuals. I’ll touch on the “right individuals” in part 2, so that we can focus on what we can do ourselves.

Here are some questions that can help point us in the right direction:

- Have I been putting off replacement of key pieces of equipment such as boilers, chillers, condensers, air handlers, etc?

- Do I know how my building compares to other buildings of similar stature?

- Is my current equipment properly sized for the job? (especially, is it oversized?)

- Do I have tracking (trending) capability in my controls system? If so, am I utilizing it?


        Knowing what you have and understanding it is the biggest hurdle to overcome. We have seen numerous clients who have old equipment and don’t want to replace it because of the cost for a new one. They are eventually going to have to replace it; why not obtain the savings now from installing the new, more efficient one, which will help offset the cost of replacement? Other clients have never taken advantage of a free Energy Star score to show them where they stand. We also see buildings that have nifty digital controls with tracking/trending capabilities, but don’t have them set up.  Use what you have to your advantage! Find out what your equipment is really doing! Trend the crap out of it! See our last blog on how powerful trends can be (“I ain’t as good as I once was” – The aging building part 2).

         It all boils down to having the proper perspective. You can always look good under one light or another. But it will only be beneficial if that perspective reveals savings potential and areas to improve. In part two we will look at questioning the proper people with the right questions!

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