Managing Plug Loads in Commercial Buildings

Will Plug Loads Be the Next Frontier in Energy Efficiency?

Energy Manager Today, January 6, 2016. Image credit: Keoni Cabral

The first vital statistic is how much energy is being wasted. At, Enlighted Vice President of Business Development Zach Gentry posted the results of a survey of 11 buildings it conducted in San Francisco. The researchers found that 54 percent of computers, 68 percent of monitors and 75 percent of printers were left on after hours.

The next step is getting an idea of how much money that represents. The costs of leaving all that gear humming all night is indeed are great, according to the story:

Commercial buildings use 20% of all electricity in America. This comes at a total cost to American businesses of $180 billion per year. According to the Department of Energy, plug loads in commercial buildings can account for as much as 30-50% of each building’s total annual electricity costs.

This means that it can be estimated that plug loads cost business $54 billion to $90 billion annually. Cutting loads by 20 percent – which doesn’t seem unreasonable considering the heighted attention this topic is receiving and the new tools available – would save $10.8 billion to $18 billion.

It’s not surprising that the Internet in general and the Internet of Things in particular are greatly expanding building managers’ ability to control plugs in their facilities. Available products and services include Enlighted’s Plug Load Controller, WattStopper’s Wireless Receptacle Controls series and Best Energy Reduction Technologies, whose plug load management system has been integrated into Cisco’s Energy Management System. In October, Enmetric stuck a deal with Johnson Controls under which its plug load platform will be available to facilities managers and related professionals worldwide.

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