Energy Curtailment

By Melanie Stewart

Though summer hasn’t officially arrived, the heat and humidity have, which means we are in energy curtailment.

That heat and humidity puts extra stress on our systems as these curtailment days are our highest energy-users.  Energy curtailment allows us to control our maximum energy demand or “peak”.  If we can reduce energy where it isn’t needed, we ensure that everything that needs energy is getting it.  Lower energy means lower emissions, better air quality, and better health for our community–our mission.  It also saves us money as our utility rates are based on peak use.  The maximum of energy we use at any given time determines the rate we pay for the entire next year.  I can think of many other things to spend money on, can’t you?

Energy Curtailment can be confusing though.  Many have asked, “If we’re saving energy, why is my office so dang cold?  Aren’t we wasting energy by keeping spaces cold when it’s so hot?” That’s true of your home, where the system adds cool air and then turns off, waits for the temp to rise, and then adds cooling again.

However, patient care and research spaces require a constant rate of air flow. In buildings with these activities, we combine both heated and chilled air, regulating temperature the way we adjust the water in a shower – adding both hot and cold to create a comfortable temperature. During curtailment, we decrease the amount of heated air we produce, because creating heat when it’s already hot it is a waste of energy.  This means some spaces will feel cold.  See our website for further explanation.

We need your help!  When the outside temperature becomes unbearable, we’ll ask you to help ease the energy load:

  • close shades, blinds and curtains whenever possible to reduce solar heat gain;
  • lower lighting levels where possible, turn off lights in unoccupied areas and when leaving a room;
  • turn off and unplug all electrical equipment not in use (computers, coffee makers, printers, chargers, etc.);
  • shut fume hood sashes when not in use; and
  • open doors manually instead of using the ADA buttons.

These easy steps combine to have a huge impact, on the hot days and for the year ahead.

If improving health, reducing pollution, and saving money aren’t enough incentives; how would you like the option of pie-ing one of your favorite campus leaders?  Stay tuned for more details!

2 comments

  1. The abandoned surgery clinic in MSB building still has computers up and running in the patient rooms. Since they moved to the cancer center these computers have been running.

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