Plug Load Study Results: Find Energy & Cost Savings in Your Sockets

Catherine Mercier

Did you know that office plug loads, the energy consumed by any electric device that’s plugged into a socket, can account for 1/5 of an office energy bill? That’s right, all of those computers, copiers, coffeemakers, task lamps, vending machines, refrigerators, and projectors—many of which consume some electricity even in standby mode or when switched off, are having a big impact on energy use and cost for commercial companies and property owners. Because office plug loads account for roughly as much as heating, lighting, or air conditioning—there are significant opportunities for energy managers to reduce energy consumption, boost the bottom line, and lower corporate greenhouse gas emissions through wise equipment procurement and effective practices.

As part as part of a study on high performance buildings led by New Buildings Institute (NBI), Ecova’s Research and Policy team recently worked with the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program to conduct a field monitoring study to better understand the energy consumption of plug load devices in commercial offices . Specifically, we were looking at ways for plug load energy savings. The results of this study are being discussed in an Esource Web conference on January 26th.

The plug load research team, led by Ecova with NBI and PECI support, inventoried the plug loads in two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings in California and recorded detailed meter files on a subset of inventoried devices (mainly office equipment). Low- and no-cost energy-reduction strategies were implemented and then the energy consumption was re-metered. The comparison of this use to the baseline allowed for estimation of the savings potential from these strategies. In conjunction, the New Buildings Institute conducted direct panel-level metering and determined the energy breakout between building systems.

The Web conference will discuss some of the actions building owners, utilities, and policy-makers can take to obtain energy savings in commercial buildings. We will review:

  • Which devices were the largest plug load electricity users from the study
  • What opportunities exist to reduce electricity use for office equipment plug loads
  • How power-management settings and other software controlled by an IT department can affect potential energy savings
  • How occupant behavior plays a role in plug-load electricity use and savings opportunities
  • How the study and assessment of plug loads in commercial buildings could factor into utility programs and government policies for plug loads.

Please join us to hear more about how you can find energy and cost savings in your sockets!

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