Automatic Timers and Occupancy Sensors Save Your Business Money

According to the New Buildings Institute, occupancy sensors and timers can save 25 to 45 percent of energy costs in schools and offices.

Now, let’s cover a few example applications for these devices you may not have thought of:  

Backup Generators

Does the business have a large backup generator?  Its engine block may be heated, and the heater may be on 100% of the time.  Some of these heaters don’t contain their own thermostat.  A contact thermostat can be placed on the engine block or an air temperature thermostat can be mounted in the generator’s enclosure.

Water Heating Systems

Does the water heating system for your building use a recirculating pump?  There is probably no need for it during the time the business is closed.  A timer can turn it off after closing time and turn it back on shortly before business resumes the following day.

Fountains and Water Features

Is there a fountain or other “water décor” on the grounds or in the lobby?  Water is heavy, it requires power to move it, and there is no need to pump it when no one is there to enjoy it.

Ventilation Fans

Do attic and mezzanine ventilation fans used for cooling need to run all the time?  Use a thermostat to even out the temperature and reduce power consumption (and again, extend the life of those fan motors).  This measure will even reduce noise in your facility.

Extending the Life of your Equipment

Properly selected timers, occupant sensors and thermostats for your business can not only lower your electricity bill, but typically their use will extend the life of the equipment they are connected to.  This benefit is often forgotten, but is vitally important when you consider the costs to replace the equipment both in terms of initial cost as well as labor to install and service over the lifetime of the equipment. 

Aside from the cost savings, another factor which absolutely demands that timers and thermostats be used in larger buildings (usually more than 5,000 square feet) is the electrical code.  Let’s cover this big issue first, then list the areas and equipment that can be optimized by using these devices.

Staying Compliant with the Electrical Code

The electrical code for commercial buildings that must be followed in the state of Washington is patterned after a national code created by ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.  In larger buildings, it is required that indoor lighting systems be turned off when not in use, with some exceptions such as minimal security lighting.  The timer(s) turning the lights off can be overridden by employees needing to work off-hours, but the codes have a time-limit on each override, such as four hours. 

OHM Electrical Contracting is familiar with the details of these rules and will follow them when working on your system.  They can answer any questions you may have about electrical codes.  They can also provide answers to such questions as “how and where can we override the timers if employees are working late and need some light?”, “what about night security lights?” and “where are occupancy sensors most appropriate, and “where are timers most appropriate”?

Programmable Thermostats Can Reduce Your Electrical Costs

You should strongly consider replacing older thermostats that require an employee to operate them.  Automatic set-back thermostats don’t need attention after programming, and they don’t have an opinion about temperature; they are programmed so the heating and air conditioning profiles are optimized for maximum savings and comfort. 

There is some false information that circulates, rumoring that the energy required to re-heat or re-cool after a set-back period exceeds the savings of the set-back.  This is false.  In one study, setting back the temperature 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 degrees saved 4 to 19 percent of kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Average Power Consumption Breakdown

The U.S. Department of Energy breaks down the average power consumption of a manufacturing facility like this:

  • Approximately 10 kWh/square foot is consumed by lighting.
  • Approximately 9 kWh/square foot is consumed by refrigeration & equipment.
  • Approximately 5 kWh/square foot is consumed by heating.
  • Approximately 3 kWh/square foot is consumed by cooling.
  • Approximately 2 kWh/square foot is consumed by ventilation.

Considering just heating and lighting, if we can save 15% of the power in a 5,000 square foot building, and the power costs $0.10 per kWh, this is $11,250 per year.  And this doesn’t include savings from extending the life of lamps, heaters, and so on.

With OHM Electrical Contracting, you get expertise in all areas of commercial electrical construction.  Contact OHM Today to discuss your needs!