Energy Curtailment

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

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?

In the past many of you felt cold on curtailment days.  It seemed backwards, that you would save energy by having it be colder in spaces when it was so hot out.  It was an effective way to save energy and money—it’s inefficient to produce heat when it’s hot out, and that’s what we were doing.  By not producing that heat, some spaces felt cold.

Updating technology has allowed us to control this process better.  Beginning in 2018, spaces that were previously cold will be affected differently by energy curtailment.  They will still be pre-cooled at night. {“Pre-cooling” is a literal term: spaces are cooled in the early morning, before people arrive.  This is also when energy use is lower, and before the sun is beating down and temps get really hot.  Spaces are often cooled below the temperature set on the thermostat, which makes it easier for the system to keep up, once the heat and humidity are in full effect.} However, these spaces will not need to be pre-cooled to such a cold temp to see the energy savings. This does mean that your space will likely get a little warmer in the afternoon.

Not only does this tend to mirror what happens in a residential situation, it is overwhelmingly what you, the building occupants, have requested and we are happy to report that this is now possible.

We need your help!  When we are in energy curtailment, 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.
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • tell others!

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

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