5 simple reasons why you must consider thermal cooling to reduce building operating costs
One of the best – and possibly most underutilized – methods for reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings is through the use of a thermal energy storage system.
Thermal energy storage reduces a building’s strict dependence on power supplied by the grid during peak daytime hours when cooling demands are greatest and electricity is most expensive. Instead, the building draws its power at night, during off-peak hours, when electricity costs half as much.
Thermal storage is like a battery for a building’s cooling system. Air conditioning equipment – usually a chiller(s) – produces ice at night, which is used the following day to cool the building without relying on the chiller to handle the bulk of the cooling load.
To understand how important it is to avoid consuming large amounts of electricity during peak hours, one must appreciate how power companies charge for it.
Power use is billed based on monthly consumption and demand. Consumption charges reflect how much energy a consumer used in a specific period of time (generally a month) measured in kilowatt-hours, while demand charges indicate the highest amount of power a consumer used during the same period.
Think of electrical consumption as a vehicle’s odometer recording total energy use while electrical demand is the speedometer climbing as energy use increases. Demand charges simply cannot be ignored, because they can account for 20 to 80 percent of monthly energy costs.
Considering HVAC accounts for 40 percent of energy use in buildings and 30 to 40 percent of peak electrical demand during the summer, thermal storage systems make sense.
Check out these five arguments for thermal energy storage:
- Cost Savings. It costs a lot of money to heat and cool commercial buildings. By drawing power from the grid at night rather than the day, consumers can lower their cooling bills by 40 percent. Thermal storage systems stabilize energy consumption patterns, eliminating usage spikes that lead to increased demand charges. Plus, thermal storage systems are better equipped than chillers to meet smaller cooling loads in buildings, which eliminates the inefficiencies of operating a chiller at low capacities.
- Chillers use a lot of power. Removing a portion of a chiller’s workload from cooling a building without negatively affecting the process is a big advantage. And in the event of an unplanned mechanical breakdown, the stored thermal energy can provide short-term relief, allowing decision makers the time to consider the best solution.
- Efficiency & Flexibility. Thermal storage systems can recover nearly 100 percent of their stored energy, which can be used quickly or over a long period of time. Plus, facility managers gain greater control over building operations based on considerations such as building occupancy, weather, and electrical rates.
- The Grid. The biggest strain on the power grid today comes from cooling systems. Power companies must have the ability to generate enough power at all times to meet demand, which fluctuates depending on the season. This is costly, and as a result, demand costs get passed along to consumers. Thermal storage, however, eliminates the need for power during peak times, alleviating pressure on the grid.
- Additional Square Footage. Building owners who are considering adding square footage to an existing chilled water system should look into thermal storage because it can reduce demand charges and eliminate adding an extra chiller or capacity. The stored ice can be depleted in tandem with the existing chillers to meet the additional load of the expansion.
Thermal energy storage is an excellent way to reduce a building’s operational expenses. It evenly spreads a building’s energy use by shifting cooling loads to off-peak hours, lowering demand charges and reducing utility costs by as much as 40 percent.
If your utility bills are too high and you’d like to reduce energy consumption in your building, consider thermal storage. For more information, please contact Jonathon Goering by email or phone at 316-265-9655.
Knipp Services works with commercial and industrial building owners to lower operational expenses and increase building comfort.
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