Essay Example on Improper Thermostat Settings Can Emit As Much Carbon As Four

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Improper Thermostat Settings Can Emit As Much Carbon As Four Million Cars A few years ago Sacramento was roasting one Summer day It was nearly 110º Fahrenheit and I felt like the only person foolish enough to be walking in this weather instead of driving a nice air conditioned car As I reached my destination the local bookshop I was hit by an impenetrable wall of freezing air as I opened the doors The little coffee shop in the bookshop was frigid and the other customers all dressed appropriately for a Sacramento Summer mind you were all shivering After making some small talk and gathering a consensus on the temperature I asked the coffee shop staff of the thermostat could be adjusted The manager agreed that it was far too cold in the establishment but that he had no control over the temperature He informed me that the thermostat was set and controlled at a national headquarters for the company As many people know this is an extreme example of a common experience Americans often find themselves in an office building or restaurant that is too warm in the winter and too chilly in the summer Of course there will never be a total agreement on an ideal temperature but if more people are uncomfortable than they are comfortable there must be a problem Energy is being wasted in an effort that causes more discomfort than actual comfort This led me to ask some questions and initiate some research 



Two of my major questions were How much energy and money is wasted in making people uncomfortable and What are the thermostat settings in commercial buildings and why Ultimately I was very surprised at how big of an impact poor thermal management in commercial buildings is on our nation's energy consumption rates Inefficiencies Making progress on my research questions went on hold until I was situated in a less extreme environment than a Sacramento heatwave Rochester New York when I started working with Ph D candidate Lourdes Gutierrez who quickly uncovered many interesting things One is that 42 percent of employees report being dissatisfied with the temperature in their offices with 14 percent being very dissatisfied We concluded that there is a widespread problem with thermal comfort in commercial applications Oddly enough there is a lot less information available as to what thermostat settings are and how they are decided We also discovered that thermostat settings should vary by location and season An office worker in Minnesota for example will wear warmer clothes in winter than one in Florida so the thermostat in Minnesota can be set at a lower temperature We went on to analyze the national potential for energy savings from changing thermostat settings by nudging them up in summer and down in winter by an amount appropriate for the local climate The first step was to determine which summer and winter thermostat settings would be comfortable for least 80 percent of occupants in 14 different U S cities Eighty percent satisfaction is a typical compromise used by experts in thermal comfort One result of our analysis was that in winter the thermostat could be safely set at 68ºF 20º Celsius in Minneapolis while in Miami 72ºF 22ºC is a better choice since

Miami ites will be dressed lighter Next we used energy simulation models to calculate the change in energy use with these new thermostat settings compared with the typical year round setting of 70F 21C Not all buildings are constantly set at 70F but it is considered a standard figure There are many types of commercial buildings we decided to focus on office buildings and restaurants as important but tractable types Our findings recently published in Sustainable Cities and Society demonstrate that the new thermostat settings could reduce 2 5 of energy use in U S office buildings and restaurants National savings on utility bills would total 600 million If other types of commercial facilities such as retail stores or hotels receive similar savings as offices and restaurants revised thermostat settings would reduce national carbon emissions by 0 3 percent These saved carbon emissions are equivalent to the pollution generated by four million automobiles in a year This isn't going to save the world from climate change but it is a substantial amount of carbon being eliminated while saving money and making people more comfortable Better data and monitoring Where to go from here 



We don't claim to have the final answer on what thermostat settings should be and how much energy could be saved as it's a complicated question and will vary by building But we strongly feel that these results highlight the need to rethink thermostat settings in offices stores restaurants and other commercial buildings Managers should investigate what thermostat settings will make their customers and employees comfortable considering the local climate Dress code also plays a role The closer employee clothing fits the outdoor environment the more energy can be saved from moving thermostat settings closer to ambient There are a number of other obvious steps for improving the comfort of people in buildings while using less energy An Energy Audit will provide insight to building managers as to how much they could save with different thermostat settings Governments can be more active in collecting data on indoor temperatures and thermostat settings in commercial buildings And to all you building occupants out there If you find your store restaurant or office too warm in the winter or too cold in summer let your management know about it Clarke Rush has been installing maintaining and servicing commercial HVAC in the Sacramento area for over 50 years Contact us for all of your commercial HVAC needs and discover what a difference experience makes


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