Whether in a business environment or at home, energy saving technologies and proper energy management can make a very big difference to monthly utilities expenses.
From intelligent thermostats and LED lighting from Andro to energy monitoring by CostWatch, consumers and business can not only help to save the environment, but also save quite a bit of money in the process.
CostWatch is an energy monitoring system that allows facilities managers to keep an eye on energy expenses and can help to show the impact that new energy efficient products can
have on utility bills.
“It helps us help them get approval to invest in energy saving technologies,” says Brian Roffey of CostWatch.
“It can be used to show you what the ROI is on the products. The ideal is one years, but anything under three years is acceptable. We aim to offer solutions that are going to pay for themselves in three years, and we’ve found that the LEDs in office buildings do– we’ve done pilot projects and both have been successful.”
In order to help companies monitor the cost benefit of installing LED lighting, CostWatch and Andro have embarked on a project to promote LED retrofits for companies.
“We will sell you the lights and then put CostWatch in to monitor to show you how much you are saving, so it goes in for a month before and a month after, and also it can pick up other inefficiencies that you have in your building that you don’t know about, which could save you even more,” says Roffey.
LED lights have numerous advantages beyond being more efficient than other forms of lighting.
“When we put LEDs in they also save energy on the AC because they run a lot cooler than normal lights,” says Roffey The lights also have expected lifespans that far exceed that of other lighting technologies, but in order to provide more peace of mind, Andro also offers a replacement warranty on any installed LED lighting.
“We provide a warranty under which we will have the lamps on island and if any of the lamps we sell you go out within the warranty period, which is typically three years for tube lighting and one year for spotlights, then we take the broken one and give you a new one, rather than having a warranty where you have to send it back to the States. By doing that we ensure that they are getting their payback on the lamps–you’re not going to spend any more money on the lamps until they’ve paid for themselves,” says Roffey.
Although the variety of lighting styles available with LED lighting makes it suitable for commercial and home application, the advantages of LED lighting are more apparent in commercial applications.
“In your home you are not there most of the time and when you are you might not have the lights on, maybe for four or five hours a day, while in an office environment the lights are on for 12 or more hours a day. That’s where the payback on those LEDs come from–long operating hours in a commercial space,” says Roffey.
As all Cayman residents are aware, home cooling makes up a major slice of monthly energy bills–around 70 per cent for residential, while it is slightly lower at around 40 to 50 per cent for commercial.
This means that newer air conditioning units, that have much higher seasonal energy efficiency ratings than older units can save a substantial amount of money.
“We’re bringing in more efficient air conditioning systems, with Westinghouse being up to 24.5 SEER. We can monitor that as well with the CostWatch system,” says Scott Strang of Andro.
With many current units sporting a SEER of between 10 and 13, installing a 24.5 SEER unit could cut energy consumption by half.
“We’re also trying to encourage people to put in more efficient units, so we’re offering discounts on high efficiency systems. Once you go with something 16 SEER or above, if you sign up for maintenance with it we offer a 10 per cent discount,” says Strang.
According to Roffey, the easiest way to decrease air conditioning related costs, especially in a commercial space, is to pay more attention to the management of cooling needs.
“Where we have put CostWatch into commercial buildings, it has picked up a lot of inefficiencies when it comes to air conditioning control. In terms of building management systems and AC in large buildings, if you have a mix of old units there is a benefit of looking at investing in new equipment, but the lowest hanging fruit when it comes it savings is your AC being operated properly,” says Roffey.
As employees are not directly responsible for the bill, they might turn the air conditioning to lower temperatures than needed and could leave it on when they leave the office.
“It might not necessarily be programmed correctly but nobody knows because they all leave at 5pm to go home,” says Roffey.
In residential applications, the use of an intelligent thermostat like the Nest thermostat could have a similar impact on cooling costs. The WiFi enabled thermostat is intelligent–though not quite up to the level of HAL, but certainly getting there.
It learns your habits, so after week of the user turning the temperature up and down as required, it will automatically adjust to match when you
come home, when you go to bed, and will even monitor the weather outside to help it figure out the ideal temperature. You can even let if know remotely that you will be coming home early.
“A regular programmable thermostat you try to programme for what you think you will be doing, but you’re not following that religiously so there’s a lot of wasted energy,” says Strang.
For those looking for an even more unique product, Andro also supplies the EcoloBlue atmospheric water generator, which produces pure drinking water by harvesting moisture from the air. The water produced is some of the purest available, as it passes through a 12 stage filtration process, and it also very environmentally friendly as it cuts down on the number of discarded plastic water bottles. As the device functions as a dehumidifier as well, it also reduces the load on the air conditioning unit, thereby saving money.