You Don’t Manage Energy; You Manage Things that Use Energy

Here’s a new way to think about managing your building’s energy consumption. Energy isn’t the thing being managed. You manage the things that use energy. Energy efficiency is the byproduct of how well buildings are run. Lights use electrical energy, but depending on the technology currently installed, investing in a new lighting system is costly and takes a long time to pay back, based on the electrical dollar savings. A building’s heating system probably burns natural gas energy. However, replacing an old inefficient boiler with a new efficient model to save money is costly and takes a long time to pay back with the gas dollar savings. Likewise, replacing roofs, windows and doors are costly and the energy related dollar savings usually takes 20 years or more to pay back.

The most efficient way for people to reduce utility bills and conserve energy is to take what your building already has installed and make it run the best it can. Basically by keeping your building temperature at the proper setpoints will help you save the most amounts of energy and utility dollars. Fifty to seventy percent of your utility bills are spend to provide building comfort conditions. Let me tell you the four ways to save the most energy and dollars in the shortest amount time.

One, run heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system operate at the temperatures they were designed to run. Normally these temperatures are delineated to keep people comfortable when the building is occupied and to protect the building investment itself, when people are not present. Occupied temperatures are different, depending on the time of year. When it is cold outside the Daytime temperature is around 70 degrees and unoccupied temperatures are about five degrees less. During the summer months, people are more comfortable when the temperature is around 78 degrees during occupied hours and five degrees warmer during the unoccupied times.

Two, have your building automation system (BAS) time clock turn your HVAC equipment motors on for the shortest time possible to maintain your buildings temperature setpoints. The shortest time as needed, can be divided into when people occupy and use the building (Daytime) and when the building is unoccupied (Nighttime, Weekends and Holidays). In the daytime, HVAC fans normally run continuously to circulate conditioned air through out the rooms. During the Unoccupied times, when the building occupants have left, the fan does not need to run continuously and the room temperatures can go lower in the winter and higher in the summer; thus reducing the amount of gas and electrical energy needed to condition the space.

Three, only bring a little more fresh air into the building, through the HVAC and BAS systems, needed to replace the stale air being exhausted through the building’s toilet and exhaust fans. This air is drawn from the outside through a set of DAMPERS in the HVAC System controlled by the BAS. The amount of air was determined when the equipment was originally installed in the building. When people are occupying the building, fresh air is brought into the space to provide an adequate level of good indoor air quality for the people. When occupants aren’t in the building, there is no need to bring in the same amount of outside air and spend extra the money to heat cold outside air or to cool hot, moist summer air. When people are not in the building, unoccupied hours, the HVAC fans don’t need to run continuously. They can operate intermittently, versus continuously, to recirculate air that is already in the building, to maintain the unoccupied lower temperature setpoints in the winter and higher indoor air temperature setpoints during the summertime. This action of providing occupied and unoccupied HVAC control reduces the amount of energy and the corresponding utility dollars being paid to the gas and electric companies.

This is incredibly important, because most people that operate buildings don’t know about rules One, Two and Three. Four, make sure the person operating the building’s HVAC, BAS and Outside Air DAMPERS, knows the proper occupied and unoccupied: HVAC temperature setpoints, BAS fan operating schedules and the HVAC and BAS outdoor air requirements. If they can’t tell you the first three things, then the building owner paying the utility bills and the contractor repair bills and the premature equipment replacement bills, should be very concerned.

Here are the important things to remember. Don’t spend a lot of money replacing equipment, lights or roofs and such, just to save energy and reduce utility bills. It just isn’t worth it. Invest your building dollars on where they can provide the biggest bang for the buck, which is maintaining and making your HVAC, BAS and Outdoor Air DAMPER systems the best they can. Building Success helps people do this.

David Opoien is the owner of Building Success, LLC. We Simplify Building Energy Management and help people lower their buildings’ utility bills and energy use. Our services help buildings run the best they can with what’s installed for the most economical costs. Our internet address is or call Dave Opoien, CEM, Business Owner, Engineer, Trane Sales Engineer, Honeywell System Sales Engineer, Large School District Building Energy and Maintenance Administer – 612-210-1528, e-mail:

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