Significantly, by 2020 in most countries, 80% of all buildings will have already been built. The refurbishment of existing building stock and improving energy management is vital in meeting emission reduction targets. Given that in the west, most buildings have already undergone thermal insulation upgrades such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and glazing, the only potential for further savings is by reducing the amount of energy consumed.
Managing energy is the key to maximising its usefulness and economising on its waste. While there are increasing numbers of products that are now more energy efficient than their predecessors, controlling switching or reducing settings of variables such as temperature or speed, makes the greatest impact.
It is not just by reducing electricity consumption that savings can be made. In fact, the judicious use of electricity in controlling other energy can bring huge reductions in the use of fossil fuels, gas, and fluid power such as hydraulics and compressed air.
The key to controlling energy is the use of technology
In commerce, it is estimated that as much as 90% of all building controls currently in use are deficient when it comes to energy efficiency.
In industry, some 90% or more of all AC electric motors are totally uncontrolled.
In the home, simple lighting controls, energy saving lamps and better heating controls can all be installed quickly, simply and cheaply.
In industry and commerce it is not just the equipment that is powered by electricity that presents opportunities for better management. Power quality issues, such as improving a site’s power factor can make substantial savings. Energy auditing can enable more power to be usefully deployed from existing infrastructure – overcoming the need for additional capacity in many instances.
For most commercial and industrial consumers there is a lack of understanding of how power is used, coupled with general ignorance of what technologies are available to manage and save energy. Equally true, is the failure to realise that other energy consumption can be reduced by using electrical control technology. Apart from building management systems, there are also advanced heating, ventilating and air conditioning controllers, boiler controls and even lift drive systems that can all contribute to maximising efficiency. Energy audits by qualified experts, however, are readily available. What is needed is the will to undertake such auditing.
In the home, most people are aware of energy saving lamps, but figures from most countries suggest that only a small proportion of people use them. Most people do not realise the simple, but effective control equipment is available or affordable.
The challenge is therefore to build a better understanding among people generally about what can be achieved and how to achieve it.