Astonishingly, plug and process loads (PPLs) consume about 33 percent of primary energy in U.S. commercial buildings, which equates to about $56 billion in energy costs per year. This is projected to grow to 35 percent of total commercial building energy use by 2025 because of increases in the number of plug‐in devices and the energy intensity of those devices.
Additionally, commercial buildings are only occupied one‐third of the time, on average, being empty at nights and on weekends and holidays – meaning there’s an enormous opportunity to make significant energy savings by turning PPLs off whenever workspaces and common areas are not in use.
Of course, advanced power strips (APSs) are ideally suited to help businesses take advantage of this opportunity—and different types are best for different situations. Let’s look at some options for business owners who are considering installing APSs at their work-site.
Small business office settings
Desk‐based technologies and other office building electronics constantly draw a large amount of power, which can also add to cooling loads, too.
A GSA study looked at three different APS strategies to reduce plug load:
- Scheduled timer powerstrip, which automatically energize and de-energize outlets based on a pre-set schedule;
- Load‐sensing master‐controlled power strip, which puts the primary device into low-power standby mode after a set time of inactivity and de-energizes peripheral devices;
- A combination of the two
The results showed that the schedule‐based timer APS was the most effective, reducing plug loads at workstations by 26 percent, even though advanced computer power management was already in place, and by nearly 50 percent in printer rooms and kitchens.
The largest savings were made when the timer APSs were applied to devices that were usually powered constantly, like printers and copiers, and kitchen appliances like coffee makers and water coolers. In these applications, the payback periods were only about one year.
Timer APSs are simple to operate, which is vital in winning over users. In the GSA survey, most office workers said they were happy to program their power strip to reflect their personal work schedules, but they didn’t want any more control than that. They also wanted an easily accessible manual override, which timer APSs provide. Other options for this demographic of workers include master‐controlled and remote-switch APSs
Activity-monitor APSs are also effective in small business settings. In another study, a Washington D.C. real estate company called Tower Companies installed motion‐sensor APSs in one of their office buildings, at workstations and in printer rooms. They recorded a 6 percent reduction in plug-load energy use during working hours and 29 percent reduction during non‐working hours.
Activity-monitor power strips at workstations may be better suited for users who tend to have multiple meetings and are away from their computers many times a day. For example, if a worker leaves their desk, the APS will sense the computer’s inactivity after a set period of time and put it into standby mode (rather than a complete shutdown, to avoid data interruptions), at the same time de‐energizing all peripheral devices. In conference rooms and break rooms, which are used intermittently, activity monitor power strips are also ideal.
Small retail businesses
Timer power strips, remote-switch power strips and master-controlled power strips work well in myriad areas, including electronic display areas involving TVs, computer and cellphone tryout stations, cosmetic lights‐and‐mirror stations, jewelry light stations and cashier aisles, which can include cash registers, conveyor belts, aisle lights, etc.
In hotel gyms, game rooms and party rooms with intermittently used equipment—timer power strips, activity-monitor power strips and remote-switch power strips work well. The activity-monitor APS also would be an efficient choice for hotel business centers and offices, which are used intermittently.
A master-controlled power strip is an ideal configuration for in‐room entertainment systems that include TVs, DVD players, games consoles and speakers. Remote-switch power strips that enable users to easily turn off the entire power strip via remote switch also work well.
An APS allows you to save energy costs safely and almost effortlessly.