Reducing air conditioning costs and CO2 emissions - The clear case for occupancy controls

The global demand for energy has increased enormously over the past few decades, a trend that is certain to continue. With fossil fuel consumption growing at an alarming rate, and global CO2 emissions increasing in parallel, the impact of carbon dioxide pollution is undeniable. An increase in average air temperature and rising sea levels leads to a drastic change to weather patterns resulting in violent storms, flooding, droughts, damage to crops and forests, mudslides and erosion. All of which are causing damage to our fragile ecosystem.

Air conditioning systems are common in the workplace and as large energy consumers they are also responsible for high levels of CO2 emissions. In a busy environment, air conditioners are often forgotten about and are regularly left running in empty rooms. Constant running overnight or all weekend has a huge impact on energy bills especially when you consider that there are 64 hours between 5pm on a Friday and 9am on the Monday. Multiply those 64 hours by the kilowatt rating of the air conditioner (2.4kWh is average) and you can quickly understand how businesses can waste many thousands of unnecessary kilowatts over the course of a year.

Significant energy savings can be achieved by installing effective energy saving air conditioning controls which ensures that the air conditioning is running in-line with room occupation and varying ambient conditions. Companies such as Climateq have taken up the challenge of reducing energy consumption and CO2 levels by designing clever energy saving controls. This article is designed to highlight the numerous benefits of using occupancy based controls to reduce operational overheads and pollution.

•REDUCED ENERGY COSTS

Companies are always in search of smart ways to cut operational costs and energy is one of their major sources of expenditure. However, by installing smart air conditioning controls, they have experienced upwards of a 34% reduction in energy costs. Some companies may look to employ time clocks however this solution does not offer the greatest energy savings because air conditioners are enabled in the morning and run all day whether anyone is using the room or not.

In fact one large NHS Trust in London reported that during the heat wave in 2018,the Trust’s energy bills increased by 15% which was solely down to the additional air conditioning demand. In a huge NHS Estate, a 15% increase in energy costs is massive. Inevitably a significant percentage of that would have been energy being wasted by staff forgetting to turn off air conditioners. Imagine if that money could have been re-directed to patient care instead. Organisations are therefore understanding the benefits of occupancy controls to reduce costs on a room occupancy basis and is a strategy that has been successfully adopted in countless sectors including the NHS, police forces, health clubs, universities, banks, local government and supermarket and retail chain stores.

•REDUCED CARBON EMISSIONS

Controlling the air conditioning based on occupancy not only helps make considerable savings in energy costs but is also contributing to reducing the overall carbon emissions that are so damaging to the planet. Occupancy controls can be expensive however companies like Climateq have developed the WiREMS, a low cost, simple but effective control making it an incredibly smart investment. A reduction in every last kW will ultimately count.

•REDUCED OPERATIONAL OVERHEADS

When equipment is left to run excessively, it breaks down more regularly, requiring more money spending on repairs, maintenance and ultimately replacement. By properly controlling equipment, the lifespan of expensive air conditioners is preserved ensuring that budgets can be channelled into other areas of the business or added to bottom line profit.

•REDUCED PRESSURE ON BUSY ESTATES STAFF

Managing the repair of broken-down air conditioning can be hugely time consuming for an already busy Facilities team managing a large estate. Once the fault is reported and logged, the contractor needs to be contacted, the necessary paperwork raised, the contractor is booked into site, access arranged to the room which can be particularly troublesome, especially in a busy hospital, then finally invoices are settled by the accounts team - all of which takes time out of someone’s day. And as time is money, it is a valuable resource that could be better spent elsewhere. So by installing occupancy controls to prevent excessive running, ensures that busy Estates staff can use their time and budgets far more effectively and productively.

•REDUCED DISRUPTION TO ROOM USERS

Staff are working far less efficiently if they are asked to work in an overheated room because the air conditioner has broken or vacate their office to allow the an engineer to repair the air conditioning. This down time increases frustration and pressure which could so easily be avoided by using occupancy controls to protect the air conditioner from unnecessary running, ultimately causing them to break down. Occupancy controls will definitely ensure a more efficiently run operation.

•IMPROVED WORKING ENVIRONMENT

Occupants often open windows while the air conditioning is on or excessively heat or cool a room so as well as making it uncomfortable for other colleagues, this behaviour could easily be increasing energy bills by another 30%. Air conditioning occupancy controls like the WiREMS also have in-built temperature control to limit the adjustable temperature and sensors which can be added which turn the air conditioning off if windows or doors have been left open. This maintains a comfortable environment for all of the occupants, reduces energy costs and carbon emissions and preserves the lifespan of equipment which doesn’t have to struggle to achieve excessively high or low temperatures.

•VERSATILITY

Versatility is one feature of occupancy sensors which is often overlooked. The major use of occupancy sensors is in the control of lighting and air conditioning, but they can also be used to control many other power sources. The WiREMS by Climateq is designed for just such applications. With the addition of a wireless relay module, multiple power sources can be controlled on a room occupancy basis using just one simple control. Individually, the cost to run these power sources may not look much but over time, and when added together, they are responsible for significant reductions in budget and profitability when allowed to run in empty rooms.

•CONVENIENCE

Simple as it may be, turning off the air conditioning can be an inconvenience, especially if in a rush or after a long day’s work. It’s very easy to forget so by installing an occupancy based air conditioning control, staff don’t have to think about it and employers don’t have to worry about the kilowatts that are being wasted by employees forgetting. Everything will be safely turned off giving complete peace of mind.

There are so many advantages in using occupancy controls. Give Climtaeq a call today - your staff and energy budget will thank you for it.

Climateq Ltd. T: +44 (0)1202 556122 E: info@climateq.co.uk

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