The current energy crisis requires efforts from building owners, managers, as well as the people in the building. What steps can you take to save energy in your building? Read more here.
In terms of energy efficiency, the overall situation in Estonia is poor. Although the most efficient use of energy has received more attention than before in the buildings built over the past decade, more than half of the population lives in buildings constructed during the Soviet era, which require large investments to become energy-efficient. Even though commercial buildings are generally in better shape, there are still a number of ways to use energy even more sustainably in those, as well.
Contact the building manager to make sure everything is in good order
You should contact the building manager or maintenance manager and ask the following questions to make sure that all the systems in the building are working as they ought to:
Has the electricity consumption increased in some parts of the building or not?
If it has, it is worth checking the data and asking the manager to find out where the increase in consumption has come from. It may become apparent that some devices have not been serviced, have failed, or that new, larger devices that consume more electricity have been added that were not there before.
Are the radiators working properly?
It may turn out that the radiators have not been flushed for some time and that there are now obstructions in the pipes that do not allow enough warm water into them, meaning that the radiators and rooms are chilly, but the bills for heating are still the same as before. When the radiators are working properly, their piping system will let enough warm water pass through.
Has the ventilation filter been changed?
It is worth checking whether the systems installed are functioning and maintained as they should be even in newer buildings. A good example of this is the replacement of the ventilation filter. If the filter is not replaced with sufficient regularity, it might not be as efficient as expected, and, at the same time, the ventilation unit will need to work harder to circulate air, using more energy. This, in turn, means higher bills.
Can smart solutions be added to the building?
It is also worth checking whether it is possible to switch to smarter solutions and install sensors for more precise control over the building – even in newer buildings. Smart solutions include, for example, controlling ventilation using CO2 sensors, rescheduling large electricity consumers on the basis of the exchange price or flexible control of energy use with the help of so-called virtual power plant software.
Take a look at consumption and behavioural patterns
You should also critically evaluate consumption and behavioural patterns that lead to round-the-clock energy consumption. For example, it is worth considering whether ventilation and hot water circulation need to be switched on at night and whether the office must have the same temperature at night as during the day.
In order to consciously reduce room temperature also during the day, people should change their daily habits. By lowering the temperature jointly in an apartment association or on a large commercial property, it is possible to bring about significant savings on heating: in newer houses, lowering the temperature by one degree provides 10% savings, while in older houses, the benefit is a bit smaller.
In many offices, the average temperature has risen with time – to 24 degrees – and has helped to ingrain the habit of wearing short sleeves in the office all year round. However, the recommended temperature should be 22 degrees, which keeps people productive in the office and also provides a big change in energy savings.
Map the necessary investments
When the first and second steps have been taken and you still want to find more savings, you should also think of the third step, i.e. investments. It is best to start by involving an expert in their field, who should be asked for a thorough analysis: what has been done to this day and what other solutions are available to save more energy in the building.
Investments can range from a few hundred euros to hundreds of thousands, depending on the specific endeavours. One of the easiest investments is to find a control system for different technical systems to replace solutions that only work in two modes: either on or off. Smarter control systems allow, for example, to regulate heating and ventilation according to timetables and to take exchange prices and consumption into account. In the case of older buildings, you should be prepared to renovate and insulate the facade as well as replace the windows and roof.
It is worth considering that the volume of investments may not be as large in the coming years as it is today in the current economic situation, where you have to take account the increase in loan payments due to the rise in Euribor in addition to the inflation. The rise in Euribor reduces the amount of money available for investments and in a situation where there is little money, it is necessary to target it more precisely. It makes sense to use experts to help you find the most important things to invest in.