With longer days and warmer temperatures comes the need for better energy management, and clever energy controls are the key, says Mike Brooks, marketing manager at CP Electronics.
Shorts, barbecues, temperatures venturing into the double digits, and clocks on British Summertime. If the last two words in that sentence didn’t give it away, it’s that time of the year again, summer.
Yet, even with longer, sunnier days, is natural light really being taken advantage of? In residential perhaps, as the responsibility is on the homeowner or tenant to switch lights off. However, in the commercial and public sector, it is likely that lights are left on even when not required, regardless of how bright it is.
On the flip side, with warmer temperatures, air conditioning (AC) usage is likely to be on the up. Yet, once switched on, it is probable that users then don’t switch the AC off, whether they are there to benefit from it or not. Frequently, air conditioning is left running continually, 24/7, whether through necessity to cool IT equipment, or through absent-mindedness.
One major factor is the lack of ownership – both literally and figuratively – of the people using the AC and lighting systems. Generally, occupiers aren’t the bill payers, so there is little incentive to be mindful about switching off the power when, for example, leaving a room. Or they’ll intentionally leave the AC on overnight in the office to ensure a pleasant temperature the next day.
However, energy management need not be left at the mercy of building users. Clever, intuitive energy controls are widely available now to curb unnecessary energy spend.
Sunny Day Savings
Maybe we are accustomed to working with artificial lighting and at a certain lux level. With particularly sunny days, this can inhibit the way we work, as rooms can be ‘over lit’ causing glare, eye strain and discomfort.
Reducing energy usage and tackling poor lighting problems is now easier and more affordable than ever. For instance, lighting controls allow for the lighting in schools to be automatically adjusted to make the best use of daylight, whatever the season. This can create potential energy savings ranging around 30-50%.
An example of these energy saving controls is the EBDSPIR-DD from CP Electronics, a direct dimming detector with lux level sensing. This detector has a DALI/DSI dimming technology that can graduate the lighting in a classroom, so lights are dimmer near the windows and brighter in darker areas of the classroom. Comfort is created by keeping the lighting level the same throughout the room. The same applies to offices and public buildings, although the lighting control requirements for each application will differ based on needs.
With a variety of short to long range detectors, now there are solutions that fit any space. Sensor controls have also become more end-user friendly, allowing users to adjust lighting through remote infrared controllers, wireless controls, or even building-wide control systems. This means whether its saving energy, setting lighting scenes, or promoting wellbeing and comfort, it’s all available at a touch of a button.
Making AC control a breeze
Similar to lighting controls, AC can also be controlled automatically, thanks to the innovative GESM-AC from CP Electronics.
This device is a battery-powered passive infrared (PIR) sensor that provides auto on/auto off switching of infrared controlled AC units. The result is a system that regulates usage based on room occupancy – ensuring that air conditioning is only powered when a room is occupied, rather than running continuously, to save energy costs.
The detector must be positioned where it can ‘see the room’ and the AC unit, so that the infrared can communicate and the PIR can also detect movement. As long as this is done, the GESM-AC will limit air conditioning usage to times when it’s necessary – and switch it off when it’s not. That’s a real win, but the even bigger benefit to building owners and specifiers is its versatility.
On the one hand, the GESM-AC can be hardwired via USB, which makes it ideal for new buildings and future projects, as developers can specify the unit to build energy efficiency into the framework and infrastructure of their buildings.
On the other hand, the unit can be surface mounted and battery-powered, with no wiring needed, and is also suitable for manual operation. So, for retrofit and refurb projects – as well as for small fit-out operations – developers and owners can enhance the energy efficiency of their own legacy air conditioning systems quickly and easily.
Being smart in summer
The cliché of British summers is that they last for merely a week. However, recent years have shown that the UK does get its fair share of sunshine and nice weather, with 2018 being the joint hottest summer for UK.
With the simple addition of smart controls, those in charge of building management need not panic about how a hot summer can impact on energy spends and wellbeing.