How do fears and myths affect energy consumption?
A lot has been written about how to achieve the best possible energy efficiency. However, the human aspect is often ignored in these studies. Meanwhile, the attitude of managers, tenants and technical service representatives is key to making effective changes in this area. In this article you will find out what myths are most often propagated when it comes to electricity consumption and what really influences it.
The topic of the impact of mindset on energy efficiency may sound a bit theoretical, but nevertheless it will be based on practical observations of a person with a technical background involved in the operation and energy efficiency projects of hundreds of buildings. We will focus on the impact of attitude and behavior on building energy efficiency and operation, which means also on costs. I will only highlight some negative examples so that you can more easily see potential problems and opportunities for improvement.
Does the mindset and attitude towards energy efficiency itself really have a real impact on energy consumption? Here I will give some negative examples heard from technicians, technical managers and managers: “let it work 24 hours, after all the tenant pays for it”, “after all it’s not my money”, “let’s not change anything, better is the enemy of good”.
I don’t believe in….
We can often meet with the statement: “I don’t believe in….” – With all due respect to all religions, when I hear such words, I immediately think that religion must be separated from technology and science. Unfortunately, when analyzing and implementing new solutions, one can hear from technically educated people that they do not believe in specific solutions, which has nothing to do with a substantive discussion. Such people will defend their beliefs during the discussion…. Technological progress, including energy efficiency improvements, is all about constantly doubting current technical solutions and the status quo. However, people sometimes get too emotional and personal about this. So any improvements etc. can be seen as a questioning of someone’s competence and beliefs, and this is a very dangerous area. It is much more effective to assume that everyone can be wrong and everything can be improved.
Myths about maintenance of device
Like most of all myths, are based mainly on some fragment of truth (i.e. on specific or extreme cases) about technical solutions from the “previous generation” and on some mental laziness, i.e. on stereotypes. I think that stereotypes and myths can be identified with laziness, because they result from oversimplifying reality, which can be costly from the point of view of facility operation.
The dogma of infallibility of the designer and the manager
Even the recent papal pontificates are moving away from the dogma of infallibility of the Pope. But still many technical people recognize the infallibility of design guidelines or former decisions of superiors. As practice shows, design assumptions are often made in excess, are sometimes inappropriate, or are simply outdated in relation to the current state of use of the building. Blind following of design guidelines or received guidelines often results from fear mixed with laziness. Then you have a safe a** (as technical people often say at work) and you are released from possible responsibility, and in reality from thinking.
The myth of the energy-consuming and harmful start-up
Does anyone leave car engine running overnight because a cold start is harmful to the engine and involves temporary increased fuel consumption? Of course it doesn’t make sense and can even result penalty. But in the energy-intensive HVAC industry, we still often see this attitude…
In modern installations, the operational lifetime of the device running for a long time (in the example of the car) is disproportionate to the start-up. Myth comes from the fact that with old installations. This myth does not apply even for older equipment when we are talking about switching them on/off for several tens of minutes or even more so for several hours. In modern HVAC systems, start-ups have a marginal impact on the energy consumption of the equipment. There is no sens to leaving it running continuously.
Of course, on/off or changing the parameters of most HVAC equipment for a few minutes intervals often doesn’t make sense. However, when it comes longer than few minutes periods, it can (and even should). And here comes another myth, that installations, such as air handling units need several minutes, or even several hours to start up, so it’s better to run all the time at constant parameters.
he myth of the continuous operation
Some pepole say, at start-up there is much more energy consumption than with continuous operation of the equipment. Indeed, sometimes the energy consumption may be temporarily slightly higher, but in many cases it is not. Where did such myths come from? Again, from a previous era and they are only partly true. Electric motors or lighting of an older type (fluorescent lamps) did indeed consume more energy at start-up, but for a very short time (seconds, minutes). The simplest analysis of the energy consumption of a chosen device at start-up is enough to definitely destroy this myth, but it is often about beliefs…
Gardener’s dog and tenant conflict
There are more and more solutions on the market for improving energy efficiency in the ESCO model (service paid back from part of the savings). With such a system, there is sometimes a gardener’s dog syndrome whereby those responsible for property maintenance torpedo technicians with requests to improve energy efficiency while avoiding doing so themselves. ESCO models can be affected by the prosaic problem of ESCO model invoicing. The ESCO vendor’s invoice must be paid out of a certain budget, and this is where problems such as conflicts with other expenses or tenant billing can occur.
At the beginning I mentioned the unfair approach of technicians and managers: “after all, the tenant is paying for it”. However, sometimes it is the tenants themselves who are to blame by their excessive conflicts in looking for excuses to lower the rent. In this case, the manager and maintenance staff will not care about energy efficiency or conservation just to avoid potential flashpoints with tenants.
The lack of initiative to improve energy efficiency by frontline technical staff is due to the fact that usually, staff have nothing to gain. Instead, they have a lot to lose. Because they have extra work and are exposed tohas a problems that sometimes occur. Espiecialy when you take the initiative and make changes. So why make the efforts?In public administration, sometimes there is even a pathology resulting from the fact that by saving too much, the budget for the next year may be limited.
In public administration, sometimes there is even a pathology resulting from the fact that by saving too much, the budget for the next year may be limited…
Secret to reveal of energy efficiency potential
My secret: in a few minutes of conversation in most cases, reveals whether there is significant potential to reduce energy consumption. And is there really has been much done to improve energy efficiency. It is based on asking a few questions about potential for energy reduction and applying negation of the answers you get. So if someone says that nothing to be improved, this usually is not true. And if the person being interviewed can see the potential for optimization and is open to improvements. They have usually already done a lot in this area and have done most of the things that are possible to implement in a simple way.