Encycle Blog

Saving Energy Earns You Money

Posted by Robert Palmer on Sep 22, 2017 10:04:32 AM

Keeping up with all the changes occurring in the electric utility industry these days can become rather bewildering. Not only are of dozens of new “smart” and “connected” gadgets available (e.g., thermostats and meters), but also at least as many new, uber-cool software technologies for managing your energy use. And pricing structures for utility rates are also in a state of flux. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently adopted radically new pricing structures for residential users and will surely be modifying industrial and commercial rate structures as well.

Generalizing what’s happening in California to the rest of the country, it looks like time-of-use (TOU) pricing is really becoming a “thing.” TOU pricing is similar to “demand” pricing, but is also distinctly different. TOU pricing rates vary based on the time of day and season, which more closely reflects the actual time-varying cost of electricity. It usually has a three-tier daily rate structure as well as seasonal rates.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, energy savings, building energy efficiency

Dear Advisor: Advice on Your Most Pressing HVAC Efficiency Questions

Posted by Robert Chiste on Sep 7, 2017 9:01:00 AM

Dear Advisor: I just joined an HVAC engineering design firm, and my boss told me that I only have one week to produce a new HVAC design for our key customer’s flagship building. He also said the design needs to meet the highest attainable sustainability goals because it will be a shining, showcase example of the best-of-the-best for the entire organization.  Help!!!  I’m petrified.

Dear Petrified:  Stay calm and never give up, my friend. Just study what makes a championship basketball team — and follow the same rules.

Dear Advisor: Huh?  

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Topics: Biomimicry, HVAC Control, building energy management, building management system, building energy efficiency

Lessons Learned: HVAC Readiness: Can You Handle the Heat?

Posted by Robert Palmer on Aug 23, 2017 8:10:00 AM

One of the key concerns of building facility managers is whether their HVAC systems can maintain building comfort on even the warmest days. Often, the path of least resistance is the one they are most likely to tread - embracing the all-too-common philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For HVAC systems in general, however, and rooftop units (RTUs) in particular, this may be very bad advice.

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Topics: HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, building energy management, HVAC maintenance

Greek Philosophers, Radial Tires and HVAC Game Changers. Say What?

Posted by Robert Chiste on Aug 11, 2017 9:41:07 AM

Somewhere around 500 BC the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who is known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, made a profound statement that is still often quoted: “The only thing that is constant is change.”

As business leaders, we are all too familiar with this adage because we deal with change every day, and our ability to anticipate and manage change often underpins the continued survival of the organizations that we lead.

Change takes place along a spectrum ranging from evolutionary to revolutionary.  Evolutionary change is often imperceptible until one steps back and views the change or transformation over a long period of time. Evolutionary change could be viewed as “change on the edges” – changes needed just to remain competitive.

Revolutionary change on the other hand can be disruptive to an entire industry and almost instantly result in winning and losing participants in that industry.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, Building automation, Demand Response, Electricity Demand Management

Extending the Value of Smart Thermostats — Are “Smart Thermostats” really that smart?

Posted by Encycle on Jul 26, 2017 9:12:00 AM

A thermostat is a common, everyday device that we typically ignore while passing it in the hall, hardly a technically advanced computing platform.  So why is there a buzz about this being a “smart” device, especially for home use, and what value can it provide to building operators?

Encycle took a hard look at existing smart thermostat functionality, and determined how to apply its intellectual property and patents to make them “super” smart. Let’s explore some of the features and services that reduce building operators’ utility costs using Encycle’s SwarmStat™ service.

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Topics: HVAC efficiency, smart buildings, HVAC Control, Smart thermostat

Practical Demand Management – Going Beyond HVAC Control

Posted by Encycle on Jul 12, 2017 1:40:29 PM

Demand charges, determined by the maximum amount of power you draw at any given time (typically measured over any 15-minute period during the month), can account for 50 percent or more of a commercial customer’s electricity bill.  Demand management systems aim to either curtail your load during that anticipated peak period or spread your load more evenly.  This, in turn, reduces peak demand and, hence, your power bill.  If your organization participates in a demand response (DR) program, your ability to control demand is even more important as you can be heavily penalized for failing to meet your obligations when a DR event is called.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, Demand Response, Electricity Demand Management

Biomimicry: Changing HVAC Energy Consumption (and  thousands of other things)

Posted by Ginger Juhl on Jun 22, 2017 1:56:24 PM

We talk a lot at Encycle about how the communication among honey bees inspired our Swarm Logic HVAC energy management software. This is just one example of biomimicry – the art and science of mimicking the elegant simplicity of mother nature to solve complex human problems. There are literally thousands of examples of biomimicry in action.

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Topics: Biomimicry, Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control

The Zen of Synergy: Making Smart Thermostats Smarter

Posted by Ginger Juhl on Jun 15, 2017 2:20:00 PM

Have you ever had a sense that two things just naturally belong together?  Or that when they’re apart, something is missing?  For me, peanut butter and jelly are at the top of this list.  And then there’s red wine and chocolate, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips… I’m sensing from my examples that perhaps I should not have skipped lunch today.

But there are plenty of non-edible examples too: yin and yang, bow and arrow, needle and thread….  You get the picture: things that naturally click. 

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, building energy management, energy savings, Smart thermostat, energy conservation

Building a Baseline for Measuring HVAC Energy Savings

Posted by Robert Palmer on Jun 8, 2017 9:16:00 AM

 

Maybe you’ve been noticing with alarm the increase in your company’s electric utility bills over the past months, and perhaps you’re also becoming more carbon footprint conscious. Maybe you’re even the plant facilities engineer and have been told that you simply must do something to reduce utility costs. So what does a smart, responsible person do? 

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, Building automation, building energy management, energy savings

Staggered Starts for RTUs Save Money

Posted by Robert Palmer on May 25, 2017 8:30:00 AM

In commercial and industrial facilities, rooftop units (RTUs) are usually turned off or greatly curtailed during unoccupied periods, for example, overnight and/or on weekends. Unfortunately, too little attention is given to the schedule RTUs are programmed for restart. If the desired setpoint is reached too early, energy is wasted, while reaching it too late adversely affects occupant comfort. Optimizing RTU start times means programming each RTU so as to reach its desired space temperature setpoint at the intended time. However, many facility managers fail to appreciate the energy and cost savings benefits of optimizing their HVAC startup schedule and simply program RTU start times to ensure they start early enough to guarantee the setpoints are reached before start of business.

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Topics: Energy Efficiency, HVAC efficiency, HVAC Control, Building automation, building energy management, Rooftop Units, RTUs