Heat, Humidity Keeps Campus in Energy Curtailment

By Melanie Stewart

The heat and humidity has been intense lately.  By the end of this week, with the exception of 2 days, we will have been in energy curtailment for a month.

During Energy Curtailment we ask building occupants to perform simple tasks to help ease our energy load:

  • close shades/blinds/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;
  • open doors manually instead of using the ADA buttons;
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator; and
  • tell others!

The actions, performed across campus, really make a difference—though there’s a lot of skepticism around that.

It’s important to remember that energy curtailment is helping us to keep our ‘peak’ lower.  Peak energy use is the maximum amount of energy being used at any given time.  While related, this is different than consumption.  Consumption is measured over a longer period of time and it’s what shows up on your bill at home—total consumption for the month.

Reducing consumption is important but the focus on energy curtailment days is to keep the peak as low as possible.  Not only does this ensure the electricity is available for necessary functions here and at your home, it helps to keep costs low.  The peak energy (demand) determines the rate we pay on electricity for the entire next year.  It’s a hefty charge that starts immediately and lasts for the next 12 months, and we have better things to spend money on, right?

It may not seem like it, but the simple actions have a huge impact.  To see proof, visit medcenterenergy.com to see real time energy information for the entire campus.  The picture above is a snapshot showing Sunday’s (blue) and Monday’s (red) use.  You will notice Sunday is pretty flat—that’s the amount of energy being used to maintain building temperature and run patient/research equipment under curtailment.  We (people) are the difference between the red and blue lines.  As we come to work, computers/copiers/coffee makers etc. start running and demand goes up.

We need your help in staying below the flat orange line; and those simple actions, if taken by most people, help us to stay there.  Thank you for your continued help.

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