While commercial building owners seem to be relatively well informed regarding ways in which they can save energy, homeowners are less likely to be aware of the newer means and methods they can employ. M&H Observations staff asked Joseph Marciano, P.E., LEED AP, Senior Associate of Merritt & Harris’ Mechanical Engineering Group and its resident “green” guru, what devices are available to homeowners today that could save them significant dollars in the long run. Joe’s response was LED lighting and smart meters. LED lighting is covered in the lead article. Here is Joe’s explanation of smart meters:
“Most people ‘run up a tab’ with their electrical utility, hoping that when the bill comes, it will not be too much higher than the last one. There are lots of practical, cost-effective, energy-saving ideas on the market that will likely save money, such as purchasing compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs or energy star appliances. Knowing how cost-effective any specific measure will be is normally based on an estimate. Energy Star labels are very useful in this regard, but there are many variables that can change the actual cost, especially the length of time any specific electrical product is on. Consumers pay for kilowatt hours, and, unless they are very large consumers, they probably will not pay directly for peak demand usage in kilowatts. Sophisticated energy management systems have been around for larger users for quite some time. These systems include plans for load shedding to shave the peak, but the concept of a ‘smart meter’ has only recently started to catch on.
The smart meter is essentially a meter that tells how much energy is being used at any given time and, also, records energy consumption over a period of time. This information can be plotted so that a graph of kilowatts vs. hours is generated. The area under the curve is the kilowatt hours, and this can easily be converted into dollars when it is multiplied by the rate. Consumers cannot stop time, but they can reduce the kilowatts. With a smart meter’s information displayed on computer screens, they can make changes and see the difference. For example, if consumers replace three 60 watt light bulbs with LED’s that use 6 watts each, they will see the power drop by that amount (162 watts). They will, also, see that they are saving money while the lights are on, in this case about five cents per hour using New York’s Con-Ed rates. This is, perhaps, a simple example, but it is an important step in terms of knowing how and when to save energy. With smart metering, consumers will see the power jump when the refrigerator’s compressor kicks on and be able to identify the larger loads that cost them money.”
For further information about Merritt & Harris’ energy auditing services or just to find out more energy-saving tips, contact Joe Marciano, at 212.697.3188, extension 371, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.