Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Understanding energy profile


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EVERY HOME AND EVERY BUSINESS has an energy profile. An energy profile is simply a measure of the way you consume electricity every day.

Today most families and some businesses use electricity indiscriminately, with no thought given to real consequences besides a high electricity bill. Few people really consider that leaving the television set on while they go outside to participate in another activity has an impact on the economy. Many people believe that what they do at home makes no difference to anything else other than their ability to pay their utility bill.

So let’s consider for a moment that they are 50 000 more people who behave in this manner and therefore that one TV set that is using power wastefully now becomes 50 000 TVs on for extended periods with no one watching them.

Each TV consumes approximately 200 watts, which translates to a total of 10 kilowatts of power being wasted (200 watts multiplied by 50 000 TV sets). So if this usage pattern is replicated across the 50 000 TVs every day for three hours, that translates to an aggregate usage of 840 kilowatt hours (kWh) for a month and 10.95 megawatt hours per year.

The cost of electricity is now at approximately $0.49/kWh; which includes the cost of fuel, so the cost of the wasted power to the consumer is $5 365.00 per annum (from this single source alone), but when it goes back up to $0.84/kWh that would now be $9 198.00.

Consider the additional impact of other household appliances being used inefficiently, businesses wastefully leaving lights switched on, air conditioning units running and computers powered-up after the office is closed and it becomes clear that the cost of wasted energy quickly rises into the millions of dollars per year.

I think we all understand that if you want to lose weight you have to control what you eat. Even a very intense exercise programme would not be successful without understanding what you eat and controlling it.

Reducing your energy usage is no different. Although we are currently focused on renewable energy and what impact it can have for individual households and business alike, the average person may not be able to afford a renewable energy system.

However, they to have a role to play in Barbados achieving its energy independence goals and whatever action they take as individuals will have an impact on the economy. It is a fact that behaviour modification is the cheapest way to achieve significant reduction in your electricity bill – as much as 50 per cent reduction – but it is probably the most difficult to do. What I have found while working with my customers to achieve their energy targets, is that knowing and understanding your current energy usage profile is half of the battle.

Powerful tools

Therefore energy audits and energy monitoring devices are very powerful tools to gaining this understanding of your energy profile. Don’t wait until your energy usage becomes a crisis, start now. Even without the audit or a monitor start thinking carefully at what you do at home or your business every day with regards to power usage. For households: Are you consolidating your laundry? Instead of several small loads, why not two or three large loads.

Do you leave a trail of waste energy everywhere you go in the house? Leaving on lights, fans, TVs…etc. although you are not going back in that room for a while?

For businesses: Are the lights in your bathrooms and corridors always on? Instead of eight bulbs in the corridor, why not just four or even two; just provide enough light to see where you are walking.

Same thing with cooling; are you cooling your corridors?

At the end of the workday, do all staff turn off their computers, printers, monitors? Does the last person leaving the building/office turn off the lights and air-conditioning system?

These are all behaviours that can be changed. Most people don’t believe that their habits have any real impact on their electricity bill and certainly not the economy. What they don’t realise is that much like with water, a small leak in your house can add up over time to a large water bill. Electricity is no different so the little bad habits or unattended “leaks” add up over time and cost you (and the economy) big time.

So I am encouraging you all to start this process of focusing on your energy usage profile today; start now after reading this article. Observe your household or business habits. Note where you can consolidate energy consuming activities, note energy wastage and note where you can use an alternative, e.g. instead of using a clothes dryer to dry two T-shirts and a pair of socks, hang them out.

You all would be amazed to see how much money you can save. At a national level if we can develop a strong awareness of energy efficiency we can save the economy millions of dollars every year. This will cost the country no money to implement, but can have significant benefits if we all play our part.

Jerry Franklin is managing director of EnSmart Inc. Franklin is an engineer, energy auditor, equipment tester, and energy solutions provider.


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