The Energy Chronicles

Small Changes in Energy Habits Could Generate Big Savings

In 2012 TEG performed a plug load anaylsis for the Hunziker & Associates Realty office in Ames, Iowa.  We caught up with Carla to learn about her experience with the energy analysis process and impacts it had in her office. She explained that the office was concerned with sustainability and that she is on a committee (Ames Sustainability Task Force) which wanted to lead by example. When Carla received her original energy assessment last year it showed that the realty office was very energy efficient and confirmed that they were on the right track, but there was a large portion of electric usage (approximately 32%) attributed to plug load.  The undetermined plug load peaked her curiosity and she wanted to see what further changes could be made. So Carla requested further analysis, specifically targeting plug load.

The assessment unveiled that many employees had personal printers, refrigerators, TVs, fans, and other appliances plugged in around the office, in addition to the multiple communal devices available in break rooms and copy rooms. Though these personal devices may add a bit of convenience and save a few minutes of time each day, they were costing Hunziker big bucks. In the analysis we identified almost two thousand dollars in estimated annual savings by making a few tweaks to Hunziker’s everyday office life.  Some of these suggestions included solely utilizing the centralized printers and refrigerators (and getting rid of the personal printers and mini fridges), and cutting down on supplemental heating and cooling (fans/space heaters).

Phantom Plug Load or Vampire Load

Since the report was delivered a few changes have been made, including installing vending misers to the beverage vending machines and getting rid of one altogether. The office had contained two soda machines in the lobby and during a company meeting employees voted on which pop machine to take out.  Vending misers help regulate the compressor in a vending machines to run minimally while maintaining required temperatures.  They cost about $165 and have a simple pay back period of 1 to 2 years so they are an easy and cost effective way for offices to save money.  Carla was also inspired to start negotiating adding a timer for the coffee pots, and switching personal refrigerators to just one commercial appliance. Overall, the biggest change that Carla has noticed is in employee habits.  By engaging in conversation, employees have been “more conscious of energy wasted, shutting off computers, and powerstrips” when they are not being used.  These small changes could lead to big energy savings for Hunziker Realty.

Of her interaction with The Energy Group, Carla said she was very satisfied and would definitely recommend TEG’s services to anyone considering requesting an energy assessment in the future.  She even invited TEG to take part in a round table symposium sponsored by the City of Ames and the Ames Sustainability Task Force earlier this year.  The task force is a group of business owners and energy professionals helping commercial entities in Ames to become more knowledgeable about sustainability and lowering energy costs.  TEG really appreciates working with the City of Ames and customers like Hunziker & Associates.  Carla Sacco and her office mates show that they are truly leading the way in sustainability and energy efficiency.  As a reminder, all electric customers of the City of Ames are eligible for a free comprehensive energy assessment. If interested, contact The City of Ames today!

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