Heating and Cooling
The largest percentage of energy used on a college campus (about 40%) goes towards heating and cooling indoor spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. Decreasing demand for cooling is key in minimizing spikes in summer power consumption and meeting critical power needs during times of power curtailment. Decreased demand for heating and cooling can also go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage.Thermostats
If you can control your thermostat, suggested settings are 75°F in summer and 68-70°F in winter. A setting of 73°F in the summer uses 50% more energy than a setting of 78°F2.
If you can control your thermostat, and/or 75°F is too uncomfortable, adjust it more radically when everyone leaves for the day. The typical office is unoccupied 60%-70% of each day. If your area has a manual thermostat, assign the duty of thermostat adjustment to the person who usually leaves the area last. If you have a programmable thermostat, take advantage of its capabilities, and set evening/weekend temperatures at appropriate levels to generate energy savings.
If you have a manual non-pneumatic thermostat, invest in programmable thermostats for your area. Plant Services and Plant Operations can install a programmable thermostat for your department by placing a work order.
Thermostat Management Tip: cranking the temperature down to a very low temperature doesn't cool an area faster. Thermostats and cooling systems work together to cool an area based on a fixed time to reach the setpoint temperature- same goes for heating3. Avoid the thermostat yo-yo effect: if you think the indoor temperature seems extremely cold or hot, call Plant Services(322-2041) for those in VUMC, or Plant Operations (4-WORK) for those on main campus and alert them to the temperature extreme. A simple repair can save a lot of energy and improve comfort.
And remember: most research areas do not recirculate and recondition indoor air the way that offices and classrooms do. In research areas, air is conditioned one-time only, circulated through the research area, then discharged through a vent or fume hood! Click here to learn more about how proper fume hood management can save energy in several ways.
Can you really feel a difference of two degrees on the thermostat in your office? Watch this video from ABC News on winter thermostat settings.
Some buildings are heated and cooled by steam and chilled water (instead of directly by electricity or natural gas). And in some buildings, the Plant Operations Department can centrally control the temperature set point. Thus, it is important to let them know if the building seems unusually cold or hot, instead of opening windows, bringing in fans or space heaters to regulate the temperature (which uses even more energy), or turning on the heat in the summer.
Don't block air vents with paper or cardboard or accidentally block vents with bookcases or other items. As much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked4.
Avoid using space heaters. They are dangerous and waste energy. Watch this video from Marriott Hotels on how they are conserving energy, including the avoidance of space heaters. (More earth-friendly tips for offices are included in this video - for free!)
Close shades and blinds during the hottest period of the day in the summer to keep heat out and cool air in. Open shades during the winter to take advantage of the natural heating. A major source of heat gain (increasing cooling demand in the summer) is the sun5.
Avoid opening windows in air conditioned or heated areas. If you need to open the windows, it could be a sign that the heating and air conditioning system is not working properly.
Accept more seasonal indoor temperature settings to avoid expensive (and sometimes wasteful) settings, especially during curtailment periods or energy spikes. Dress for the season and in layers to help moderate personal temperature.The End Result
If Vanderbilt decreases its electricity demand for heating and air conditioning by 15%, it would avoid consuming almost 3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity in a day on peak demand days!But what does this mean?
3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 83 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That's a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.
Check The Math
40% of power for heating and air conditioning x 60 megawatt-hours consumption per day (on peak days) = 24 megawatt-hours
15% of 24 megawatt-hours = 3.6 megawatt-hours
Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours6
1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. "University Buildings", 01/27/06.
2 Nashville Electric Service PowerNotes, July 2008.
3 Energy Star web page " Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats", 2008.
4 Energy Star web page " Energy Star at Home and at Work" August 2007.
5 ACC Environmental Consultants, " Energy Saving Measures for Office Building Tenants".
6 Nashville Electric Service web page " Residential Rates", 2008.