My primary activity for a number of years has involved writing about systems that both use and make different forms of energy.
Invited here to write about managing energy was more of a challenge than I initially thought since I quickly realised I didn’t really understand the term “Energy Management.”
There are various ways control systems are used and not just to monitor energy. For example recording the way water is used and stored is a relatively simple application and perhaps more important, can help avoid real life threatening disasters.
This week in the news I read Legionella bacteria was found in a baby’s birthing pool and it is suspected the new born child was infected by the disease. This is devastating especially since we have had past horrors of Legionella spread by aerosol systems used in hospital cooling towers.
If you look it up in the Cambridge Dictionary they do not have an entry for Energy Management. Instead we are offered, change management, stress management and mismanagement – plus loads more variations on the management theme and mismanagement was where I seemed to be heading!
Back to basics we know for certain that “Energy” is power produced from a physical or chemical reaction and we use this to provide light, heat and operate machines.
So, what energy management is actually all about is monitoring the systems using the power and any resource for that matter, since the same controls can be used to provide information from a range of other non-power sources.
My interest in this topic came from speaking to neighbours at the iCon Environmental Centre in Daventry, who operate a business called Uniq Solutions. What they do is install a range of devices and probes designed to monitor practically anything that can be monitored and measured.
This could be to check for the risk of diseases such as Legionella; or to keep an eye on fridge and freezer temperatures, in addition to more conventional tasks like measuring the amount of power being used to heat, cool and operate equipment.
The realisation there are so many clever ways to monitor energy/power usage as well as making sure we stay free of some pretty awful diseases, has increased my overall interest in this important topic.
Here’s another thought that immediately springs to mind. Both in the home, office and factory we agonise about new ways to heat, cool and manufacture things all to a budget. The government have spent huge sums of our cash on insulating older homes and premises whilst ensuring all new buildings are properly insulated from day one.
How about as well as all of the above we actually manage, water use, electricity, heat and cooling – better
By using control systems to check fridge/freezer temperatures, making sure they are always set at the correct level, sending a regular report to ensure the food we buy in the supermarket and eat in a restaurant is being stored correctly.
Watching TV programs like the Food Inspectors, it’s a relief that great emphasis is placed on hand washing facilities in fast food take-aways, however, the fact they have a fridge does not mean it is working correctly.
People selling food should be made to keep data produced by their refrigerant and cooking systems for later inspection by the food inspectors, flagging any risk of poor food management. This can easily be installed using low cost devices.
Regular checks of the water tanks provide a history that can be inspected; ensuring the likelihood of these events is reduced – all of this by wireless gadgets and monitoring.
Perhaps more amazing is the cost of doing this is not at all expensive when compared to spending money on insulation and renewable energy systems.
Managing the way we use our resources is clearly a no-brainer and a massive contributor toward reducing energy costs.
Finally, imagine the cost reduction over a twelve month period if you could flick a switch and turn-off all the air conditioning, fridges, freezers, even heating for a short period – like 20 seconds – in a large hotel, office block, shopping centre or factory, just a few times each day during peak demand – now that will be energy management.