Logo: The Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College
Logo: The Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College

Education & Training for Energy & Water Professionals

Education & Training for Energy & Water Professionals

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What is Energy Management?

Energy Management Defined

An except from Roger Ebbage's NRG 101 Introduction to Energy Managment Class

The first objective of any class in any discipline is to define the key term(s) of the discipline – which in this case is Energy Management. In Energy Management there are two working definitions that I cite. The first is where I wish we were culturally and that is,  “Energy Management is the Socially Conscious Generation and Use of Energy that Promotes Sustainable Building Design and Use Resulting in a Livable Environment”. Pretty nice isn’t it? It means everyone is on board with saving resources in both energy generation and energy consumption for the good of all human kind (cue the music please).

Here is a more common, pragmatic definition of Energy Management. “The Judicious and Effective Use of Energy to Maximize Profits (minimize costs) and Enhance Competitive Positions”. In fact up until recently, economics have driven the deployment of energy efficiency equipment, appliances, and behavior adaptaion (change) regardless of the end-use (where the energy is used) environment. The most common question related to energy efficiency recommendations, from insulation to solar Photovoltaics is “what is the payback on….?”. In other words, how long will the energy savings take to pay back the investment made to purchase the – what ever! Of course the answer is “it depends!” What it depends on is what you’ll learn in this program. Can you guess what some of the topics will be?

In the Energy Management world, there are resources upon which we rely to give sage advice which I call "words from on high". The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) in Snowmass, Colorado is one such resource and is at the pinnacle of energy efficiency information. Amory Lovins, PhD in both Physics and Economics, is the CEO/President of RMI and consults with heads of state on a routine basis. You can find their work at http://www.rmi.org. Amory has authored a ton of papers, including his definition of not Energy Management but Energy Efficiency.

“Energy efficiency is not conservation by curtailment. It means doing more with less, enjoying more comfort, providing the same or better services, but doing it a little smarter”.

That sounds do able, right? RMI also gathers data/statistics. This is a little dated but here is a very interesting Stat!

“….since the Arab oil embargo in 1973, the United States has gotten more than four times as much new energy from savings as from all net expansions of domestic energy supplies put together”.

There are other definitions, but "using less energy to provide the same service" is a good operational one.

The best way to understand this idea is through examples:

When you replace a single pane window in your house with an energy-efficient one, the new window prevents heat from escaping in the winter, so you save energy by using your furnace or electric heater less while still staying comfortable. In the summer, efficient windows keep the heat out, so the air conditioner does not run as often and you save electricity.
When you replace an appliance, such as a refrigerator or clothes washer, or office equipment, such as a computer or printer, with a more energy-efficient model, the new equipment provides the same service, but uses less energy. This saves you money on your energy bill, and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.

Again, energy efficiency is not energy conservation.

Energy conservation is reducing or going without a service to save energy.

For example: Turning off a light is energy conservation. Replacing an incandescent lamp with a compact fluorescent lamp (which uses much less energy to produce the same amount of light) is energy efficiency.

on Thursday July 13 by Super User
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