You’re likely familiar with a smart meter, as these devices are standard in many homes, businesses and schools. In their purest form, smart meters measure electrical flow between the mains power grid and private properties. Similar to smart metering, electrical load monitoring is a cutting-edge system that can identify energy consumption; however, it can monitor more than just energy usage habits in commercial buildings.
Why is Electrical Load Monitoring necessary?
Energy demand is snowballing worldwide, with electrical energy demand expected to double between 2010 and 2050. Looking at trends of a growing global population, increasing life expectancy and improvements to the quality of life in developing nations, current electricity production methods (which are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels) are not sustainable.
As the saying goes, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ The same goes for your energy consumption, as load monitoring provides visibility to your energy consumption and identifies any potential issues, patterns of consumption, and opportunities for improvement.
Load monitoring can also help determine higher energy usage related to specific appliances, environmental influences or habitual circumstances. For example, a usage spike in the afternoon from buildings on the west side of a school campus could be activation of the kiln in the art room. Or it may be the air conditioning system, which could be met with several potential solutions.
Measuring your electrical consumption
Load monitoring can be measured in one of two ways, with temporary meters that perform data logging or a fixed metering system.
The temporary meters can be especially useful if you suspect there may be an issue and can often identify any appliances or areas of your building that may be increasing your energy consumption.
A fixed metering system is an always-on approach, where your energy consumption is being measured, and the data stored for easy access and use. This allows a proactive approach as opposed to reactive, and an opportunity to continually optimise the appliances and energy usage within your building, or facility to maximise efficiency.
So, why should you measure your own consumptions levels?
Ultimately, understanding your load or energy consumption with Load Monitoring over a period of time can identify opportunities to improve efficiency, or identify equipment that may not be working correctly.
This visual representation to employees or customers about energy use can help to reduce costs overall, and aids in setting targets and processes, to ensure your building, campus etc. is meeting Green Star and NABERS requirements.
In the case of appliance energy use, for example, it can be manageable in three keyways: reallocation, reduction and replacement.
Reallocation refers to altering the times or ways that energy-hungry devices are used, often implementable with smart controllers. An example is heating and cooling—almost 50% of commercial building energy is used for thermal uses.
In summer, a system could allocate cooling resources to the north and east regions of a building in the morning, keep automated doors and windows closed, then switch the AC to the west-facing wings through the afternoon.
Reduction might include utilising natural light, solar-passive designs or simply using appliances less frequently. Think of a school library with multiple computers and monitors, many of which are left on when not in use. Even in standby mode, the unnecessary energy costs add up. But implementing an automated power off setting after school hours could reduce costs substantially over time.
Removing appliances may not be possible, but replacing them can reduce energy usage. Switching to energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting systems and building automation allows businesses and institutions to reduce their energy consumption and costs over the long term.
Get in touch with IET today, to find out how Load Monitoring can benefit your building, facility, or campus, and to learn more about energy-efficient appliances.