- Written by Catherine Luthin
Like any major industry, energy has its folklore and myths. Today I’d like to present you with a few of those myths.
Myth: Bringing in night air that’s cooler than air inside a building will cut the next day’s cooling load.
Reality: Depends on your neighborhood. Is the total heat content – air plus moisture – of the incoming outside air less than the conditioned air in the building? A significant chunk of cooling load comes from drying out wet air. What might work well at night in the dry plains may not work so well in humid coastal areas. If the interior air is warmer and more humid, it makes sense to replace it with cooler and dryer outside air. But if the outside air is cooler and more humid (as is often true at night), then such “night flushing” could introduce more heat in the air’s humidity than is displaced from its lower dry-bulb temperature.
Myth: Improving the efficiency of lighting, electric appliances, and motors could significantly reduce oil imports.
Reality: This will only be true in Hawaii, where oil is the major source of fuel for its power plants. For all of the US, less than 2% of electricity comes from oil. The US has eliminated most oil-fired generation, using it now mainly in small peaking units, not in the large base load plants.
Today, nearly all of our kilowatthours come from coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro. (Source: Energy Information Agency)
Myth: Turning on all your lights at the same time results in a much higher demand charge than starting all of them just a few at a time.
Reality: When fluorescent lights running on electronic ballasts are first switched on, they may indeed pull 10 times as much power as they do after startup. But that high power draw lasts less than 2 seconds. Utility demand charges, on the other hand, are based on the most kilowatt-hours consumed in a 15 or 30-minute period. A brief high draw has essentially no impact (less than ½ of 1%) on the kWh consumption in that period, and thus very little impact on the peak demand charge. Turning on all the lights at once, however, might cause a circuit breaker to trip.
About the Author:
Catherine Luthin has over 25 years of financial and energy management experience within the corporate, non–profit and regulatory environments. She is the President of Luthin Associates, an energy management consulting firm that proactively manages energy procurement and sustainability services for their clients. Catherine chairs and manages Consumer Power Advocates (CPA), an association of non-profit institutions whose primary goal is to decrease the cost of energy by focusing on regulatory decisions and programs which impact energy consumers in New York State. Catherine is a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City Energy Policy Task Force, BOMA NY’s Energy Committee, the Association of Energy Engineer’s Certified Energy Procurement Board and she is Energy Policy Chairperson for the Association of Energy Engineer’s Council on Women and Environmental leadership. Catherine has also been a guest lecturer at Columbia University’s Environmental and Energy Policy Department. If you are interested in Catherine’s services you can contact her at: (732) 774-0005.
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