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Energy Monsters

It’s October and we need to look at some monsters, but not the goblins and ghouls that come out on Halloween. We’re talking about energy monsters that take over facilities! HVAC and lighting account for anywhere between 70–90% of total energy in fully air‐conditioned commercial buildings, depending on the building type. So, what can you do about it?


Some easy ways to save energy include:

  • Even a new HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance, so make sure that you have an annual maintenance contract. A contract automatically ensures that your system will get “pre-season” tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. Your chances of an emergency HVAC breakdown also decrease with regular maintenance.
  • Install variable frequency drives (VFDs) and energy-efficient motors.
  • Balance air and water systems.
  • Upgrade and maintain heating and cooling equipment. Retrofit or install energy-efficient models to meet a building’s reduced cooling loads, and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.

Another way to battle this monster is to review scheduling and set-points for ways to shift energy use to off-peak hours. Some utility companies base the entire upcoming year’s electricity rates on a narrow timeframe of peak demand use. It’s time to find out when your building is using energy and then find out why.

As winter approaches, it’s a good idea to give the HVAC system an overall review and restore it to the original performance standards. A few minor flaws may not seem like a big deal, but when the system is working hard, and energy costs are high, the little anomalies end up costing a lot.


Some easy ways to save energy include:

  • Replace old fluorescent and incandescent lighting with energy-efficient lighting systems that improve light quality and reduce heat gain.
  • Install LED exit signs.
  • Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights on and off based on movement in the rooms. Consider beginning with storage rooms, meeting rooms, and other low-traffic areas. Occupancy sensors can save between 15 and 30 percent on lighting costs.
  • Check with your local utility to see if they offer any incentives.
  • Examine the opportunity to switch to LED lighting for outdoor signage and parking lights.


While appliances aren’t the biggest energy monsters, they still present an opportunity to save. These account for the remaining 10-30% of energy use – in hospitals it’s usually closer to 30% due to the larger kitchen operations, as well as linens washing and the constant use of medical equipment. Some easy ways to save energy are:

  • Unplug your laptop or turn off your computer when you leave the office
  • Keep refrigerators on a lower demand setting
  • We all know how important coffee is but try not to make a new pot every 30 minutes.
  • Use a power strip for equipment to make it easy to turn on and off

Energy monsters can cost you a lot – according to the Department of Energy, 30% of energy use in commercial buildings is wasted. It’s important to make sure that you’re doing what you can to reduce your energy consumption. If this feels overwhelming, we’re happy to help! Harshaw Trane has experts in HVAC, energy supply and demand, lighting and controls. Call us today!



Building Research & Information Journal