Blog & News
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Today’s article is straying a bit from energy, a topic we’ve covered in various ways over the past few months. Let’s take a moment to talk more about waste and recycling! Over the past few years, waste has become a hot topic in the sustainability field. There’s landfill waste, recycling, food waste, electronic waste (or e-waste), and many other kinds of materials entering our waste stream every day. Let’s start our waste journey by talking about recycling.
Recycling rates across the country...more
In a previous blog, we talked about battery storage for on-site solar arrays. Utilities are also considering storage at a larger, grid scale. Let’s explore the benefits of utility-scale solar and battery storage.
Utility-scale energy storage (often through batteries) is usually paired with utility-scale renewable energy projects, so let’s talk about those first. Utility-scale solar installations are much larger than...more
Solar power is a great alternative to fossil fuels when it comes to producing electricity for your home, office, or school. We’ve talked about the difference between on-site and community solar, and shared some incentive options to offset the costs of a renewable energy project. What if your solar array produces more energy than you need? There are two strategies for excess energy: storing it in batteries, or sending it back to...more
In a previous article, we talked about adjusting operations and water temperatures to help chiller systems run more efficiently. In this article, we share some information about how humidity can impact energy use, and discuss opportunities for efficiency while still meeting space humidification or dehumidification needs.
Humidity can significantly impact how comfortable a person is in a room, and how well equipment and building materials hold up over time. In the summer, if a space is too humid, people...more
Yes! Buildings and campuses, depending on their size, are heated and cooled differently. A home might use a relatively small central air conditioning and furnace combination, or maybe a furnace with window air conditioners. Larger buildings and campuses with multiple buildings, however, may utilize boilers for heating and chillers for cooling, with system pumps to distribute chilled water to various connected locations. In this article, we’re going to focus on chillers, and discuss opportunities to run them more efficiently.
In our last blog, we talked about how electric rates include some expensive charges during the summer months. Because we often use more electricity in the summer to run equipment like air conditioning, and we can be charged more for usage (kWh) and demand (kW), it’s important to look at strategies that will help reduce both.
Especially for larger buildings with multiple rooftop or air handling units, staggering the time equipment turns on can be a great way to reduce demand (remember,...more
Summer’s coming, and we’re getting ready for the activities that come along with it - no school for a few weeks, outdoor activities, and air conditioners ramping up to keep us cool. But did you know… electricity is typically more expensive in the summer? Not only do our utility bills usually go up because we’re using more electricity to run our air conditioning, but we are also being charged more by our utilities for that usage. Let’s take a closer look why, and what some...more
Electricity is ubiquitous in the United States: just about every household in the country uses electricity for something - refrigerators, televisions, phone chargers, air conditioning, and sometimes for heating (although almost half (47%) of Americans use natural gas for their heating needs). While each utility is different and charges different rates...more
portant things to think about when considering air quality in our work, home, school, and other spaces are ventilation and cleaning products.
Americans generally spend 90% of their time indoors, so getting ventilation (the amount of outside air supplied to a building) right is important to keeping everyone healthy and comfortable while at work, school, and home. ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) has...more
Electricity and natural gas are the two common ways we power our buildings. The price of energy is often just accepted by customers, without knowledge about how these prices are set. This article will review some general things that go into setting utility rates. Keep in mind that these may vary by state since each state’s utilities are managed differently (e.g., regulated vs. deregulated), so be sure to look into the specifics for your state.
Electric and natural gas prices are set to...more
You may have heard the terms “regulated” or “deregulated” used to describe the particular utility market in which you live, work, learn, or play. I started to learn about the difference between regulated and deregulated markets when I moved from Arizona (a regulated market) to Illinois (a deregulated market); I am still learning about their differences.
As a note, for this article, I am generally writing about electricity markets, although some states have chosen to deregulate their natural gas markets as well.
At a very high level, the general difference between the...more
As noted in the last article, solar can be complicated. You can install it directly on your property, buy panels as part of a larger system, or purchase a subscription to a community solar program. Options and benefits could differ depending on the state though, so today, we’re going to talk about different renewable energy opportunities around the country.
Sometimes people assume that solar power is only viable in the sunniest...more
Are you interested in going solar, but aren’t sure where to start? You’re not alone! Solar energy can be complicated, but there are lots of benefits. In today’s article, we’re going to talk about on-site (or rooftop) solar and community solar. In the next article, we’ll talk about how solar energy opportunities and incentives differ by state.
Solar energy is electricity or thermal energy produced by the sun. This is one of the most...more
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is a common phrase often heard when talking about energy management. It’s also why many cities, counties, and states around the country have passed energy benchmarking and transparency ordinances over the past few years.
Benchmarking policies require that certain building types of certain sizes track and submit their energy data to the city or state. These efforts allow jurisdictions to track progress on...more
In previous articles, we talked about tracking and conserving water in buildings and reusing water when possible. Today, we’re going to talk about the costs of water and why it’s financially beneficial and environmentally reasonable to conserve water.
In general, water rates across the country have been increasing over the past decade or so....more
The holidays are coming up, which means festive decorations, time with family (safely, while following social distancing, mask-wearing, and gathering size recommendations), and gift-giving! Today, we’re sharing gift ideas for the energy and sustainability enthusiast in your life.
For a math or science teacher:
Whether or not they teach about energy efficiency, a...more
Recently, we talked about strategies to manage and save water within buildings to make sure we’re protecting the availability of this important resource. Today, we want to talk about reusing water from buildings and managing stormwater efficiently.
There are lots of innovative technologies being tested and implemented...more
Water is a precious resource, but sometimes people don’t give it a second thought. But we should! The next two articles will discuss challenges around our water supply, and strategies buildings can take to protect this valuable resource through conservation and stormwater management.
Water scarcity is a pressing concern; for example, in the Southwest, the amount of water coming from the Colorado River (and therefore available to the seven states it provides resources) has...more
In previous articles, we’ve shared how important it is to communicate energy conservation goals and actions to tenants, and why building occupants should manage their plug loads. Today, we’re going to focus on engaging school staff and students with energy conservation. Teachers and students can help facilities staff meet energy goals with a few easy (and educational!) strategies....more
In a previous article, we talked about engaging residential building occupants with energy conservation, in particular the importance of communicating goals, why the goals are being set, and the outcomes and benefits from actions to achieve the goals. Today, let’s talk about strategies that could be effective when engaging office building tenants with energy efficiency.
Similar to residential tenants,...more
Energy conservation is important to building owners and facilities managers, but what about those who occupy the buildings - home owners and residents, commercial oﬃce tenants, students and teachers? Let’s talk about how to engage building occupants in energy conservation, starting with home owners or residential tenants.
There are, of course, simple ways to save energy in your home - use LED lightbulbs, turn oﬀ lights and electronics when they’re not in use, take...more
In a recent post, we discussed energy management in buildings in a post-COVID world. In this post, we’ll dive into some sustainability considerations for water use, waste management, and cleaning procedures as building managers plan for increased building occupancy over the coming weeks and months.
For the past few months, the message about washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water has been hammered...more
2020 has been quite the year so far, especially since for many weeks (even months in some areas of the country), we have been asked to stay home to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Earlier this year, the Fusebox team shared strategies for building management teams to save on their energy bills while their school, office, and other buildings stood unoccupied.
Now, many states are re-opening....more
Installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is an excellent way to be sustainable, environmentally friendly, and, possibly, reduce your grid electric bills. However, these savings are not as simple as just installing solar panels and walking away. There are many things to take into consideration pre- and post-solar installation. Below we have created your “go-to guide” for a financially successful solar PV system.
When installing solar, one size does not fit all. It is important to properly size a system. We recommend that solar...more
Within any organization, it can be argued that people are the most powerful resource. Behavior change is the most cost effective and powerful energy conservation tool any organization has, and yet, many fail to recognize and leverage this resource. The more people in the know, the less people who don’t know. That’s my motto! Hence, when I start working with a client, my goal is to get as many people up-to-date and trained on energy saving strategies as possible. I am willing to talk to anyone who is willing to listen! The more people who are aware of an organization’s efforts to save...more
The latest technology will always be more efficient based on factory standards. However, once the equipment is installed, the way you operate and maintain the equipment is what truly defines how efficient it is. Without the proper training, manuals, spare parts, and communication, buildings with updated equipment may, in fact, use more energy than the average building. Below are examples of when installation of new, energy-efficient equipment did not create the energy...more
When Fusebox first starts working with a new client, for the most part, the client is managing their utility data in one of two ways. Either they are just paying the bills and not managing it at all, or they are using an Excel spreadsheet. These spreadsheets end up being thousands of lines long, and generally, do not include any formulas for any true form of analysis. They are just lines and lines of data.
This is where the power of Fusebox lies. Our software and our people are able to analyze data, catch errors (as discussed in last week’s myth), and ensure our client is saving...more
As in all aspects of life, mistakes happen. However, when these mistakes lead to you being over charged by thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is time to start paying a little closer attention. There are three main potential reasons why you could be overpaying for your utilities: broken meters recording erroneous data possibly undetected by the utility; billing errors created by utility software updates and/or manual billing processes; and, meters on the “wrong rate plan,” one that...more
Over the next five weeks we will be busting some long-standing energy myths that may be draining your utility budget. Below you can get a snippet of what is to come. Keep an eye out for more details as each myth is busted!
Myth #1: The Utility Company Is Always Right
We rely on utility companies to provide us with accurate information, especially since this is a commodity we are charged for. However, is the information they are providing in actuality accurate? And how can we be sure that the technology they use is working properly? In this myth, we will discuss...more
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