How To Calculate the Energy Efficiency Of A Commercial Building

Tired of seeing the energy bills for your commercial or industrial property continue to grow larger every month? If your energy usage hasn't changed and all other things are the same, it could be that your building has an energy efficiency problem.

If you're not sure how energy-efficient your building is, it's a good idea to have a professional electrician calculate your energy consumption to see if there are any glaring issues. Ensuring your property is as energy efficient as possible will not only lower your energy bill, but it will increase the lifespan of your electronic systems.

Engineer using tablet pc at work

Performing a thorough energy efficiency analysis is no small feat, so it’s usually best to leave that up to a licensed electrical contractor. However, if you’re thinking about performing your own analysis first, here’s some information you can use to estimate how energy efficient your property is.

What Is Energy Efficiency?

When something is “energy efficient” this means it is able to perform whatever function it was designed for with the least amount of electrical power possible. So when talking about improving energy efficiency, you are attempting to find ways for an electrical system to produce the same function, just with less power.

For example, one way that buildings can become more energy-efficient is by finding ways to use less power to heat and cool the building. Sometimes energy efficiency improvements can be low-tech, such as applying solar reflective window tinting to repel heat. Other times, more extensive upgrades like replacing an older HVAC unit are required to address inefficiencies.

At the end of the day, energy-efficient buildings make less of a negative impact on the environment, the communities they exist in, and the owner’s bottom line.

How To Calculate Energy Efficiency

When analyzing your energy efficiency, there are a couple of ways that you can calculate your building’s consumption rate. Each methodology will have its pros and cons, so it’s good to consider all of them when formulating an efficiency implementation strategy.

Energy Conversion Approach

The first approach is the most straightforward: calculating the ratio of energy output to input. This formula typically measures the relationship between the energy a device produces and the energy it receives from a power source. An example might be the amount of light a bulb produces with the power from the socket it consumes.

You can calculate energy conversion efficiency with the following formula:

Energy efficiency = energy output / energy input

The higher the ratio, the more energy efficient the device is. However, it’s important to consider more than the basic conversion ratio when developing a solid strategy for your building.

Financial Approach

Energy efficiency can have a significant effect on the financial sustainability of your building. If the cost of running air conditioning, appliances, and manufacturing equipment is high, it could hurt your company’s overall profits.

The key is finding a balance of using as little energy as possible while maintaining acceptable comfort levels for everyone in the building.

The financial approach’s calculation of energy efficiency uses the following formula:

Energy efficiency = income per area of x / energy consumption per area of x

The formula measures the profit per unit of consumed energy over a certain period. In this formula, “X” represents the period of time in days, weeks, or months.

Environmental Approach

Many jurisdictions have laws on carbon emission reductions that building owners must uphold, requiring them to limit their energy consumption and minimize their impact on the surrounding environment.

The goal is to perform the same tasks while using as little energy as possible, such as lighting a room with lightbulbs with a 50% energy conversion ratio rather than 4%. Building owners can use this comprehensive approach to determine the costs of upgrading to a more energy-efficient system, including differences in maintenance, depreciation, and energy consumption.

Use the formula below to get the total costs of one system, then calculate the other and compare costs:

Total cost = (cost of system/lifespan) + total energy consumption + annual cost of maintenance

7 Ways To Make Your Building More Energy Efficient

Innovative ways to reduce energy consumption continue to emerge as much of the world continues to shift toward renewable energy sources. Here are some of the best ways that building owners can lower their carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency.

Improve Building Insulation

If the walls, floors, and ceilings don’t have proper insulation, air leaks through and causes your HVAC system to run when it shouldn’t. This inefficient use of air conditioning or heating wastes money and energy. Luckily, it has a relatively simple fix: ensure your building has thorough, high-quality insulation.

Add Energy-Efficient Lighting and a Smart Lighting System

Lighting is one of the biggest culprits of energy waste. Incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs use much more power than LED bulbs and give off more heat, putting more load on your air conditioning system. When you swap your out-of-date bulbs with energy-efficient, long-lasting LED lights, you’ll notice a significant difference in energy costs and consumption.

Energy-efficient LED lights work in conjunction with a smart lighting system. Smart lighting allows your building to shut off lights not in use automatically, for example, if a room has been vacant for an extended period of time.

Upgrade to an Efficient HVAC System

The costs quickly add up if your HVAC equipment is older and inefficient. The best way to ensure that your building is as energy-efficient as possible is to upgrade to an HVAC system that’s the perfect size for the area it needs to cool or heat and is a new and upgraded model.

While the cost of upgrading your HVAC equipment can be high, the decrease in utility bills over time can offset the installation price.

Weatherize Doors and Windows

Gaps in doors and windows can lead to heat and air escaping the building, causing your HVAC system to work overtime to keep the interior at the right temperature. You can fix this energy loss issue by updating worn weatherstripping around your door and window frames. Weatherstrips create a barrier between the inside and outside, preventing unwanted air from entering or exiting your building.

Install Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats connect to the Internet to run processes that help maintain the energy efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system. They can considerably reduce energy costs by:

  • Monitoring live weather reports to adjust settings based on outside conditions
  • Connecting to motion detectors to measure building occupancy and turning off systems when the building or specific rooms are vacant
  • Allowing building owners to change settings and set schedules via smart devices

Focus On Renewable Energy Resources

Most of the world relies on fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, and oil, for power. These resources are not only finite but also harm the environment with extended use. These fossil fuels are the leading cause of global warming, one of the most significant environmental concerns.

More people are switching to renewable, clean energy resources like solar and wind power. This energy transition helps combat the waste and short timeline of fossil fuels.

Build Up Versus Out

Expanding a building upward instead of outward optimizes space and reduces energy waste. Your HVAC system will have an easier time maintaining the temperature of a tall, narrow building than a horizontally spread-out one. This strategy preserves more natural space surrounding the building, allowing for an environmentally beneficial landscape.

Would You Like To Schedule A Professional Energy Audit?

If you’re ready to schedule an energy usage analysis for your retail, commercial, or industrial property in Florida, give Suncoast Power a call today. We have provided commercial electrical solutions in South Florida for more than 30 years, and our team has the expertise to get your job done right.

Call us at 754-200-5872 or fill out our online contact form to start discussing your project with one of our team members.