Vampire Loads – 10 Percent of Energy Bills
Vampire loads means electricity is being used for appliances and equipment that are actually not operating, such as electric chargers, televisions and sound systems with remote controls, countertop appliances, etc. In fact, according to the DOE, “vampires are often responsible for adding 10 percent or more to your monthly utility bill.” For instance, the average charger is consuming 0.26 watts of energy when not in use, and 2.24 watts even when a fully charged device is connected to it. By either unplugging or using electric power strips with on-off switches, these expenses and loads vanish.
Now these four approaches, all cost effective, are nearly 40 percent of building electricity use, and guess what a host of 20+ others can give even greater energy savings from insulation and better windows, EnergyStar appliances and office equipment, and super-efficient HVAC systems — just to name a few.
And now add, the headache of distributed generation. The Wall Street Journal notes that big-box retailers to high-tech manufacturers, and other companies across the country are producing their own on-site power than ever before . Since 2006, the number of electricity-generation units at commercial and industrial sites has more than quadrupled to roughly 40,000 from about 10,000, according to federal statistics. And most experts (including this one) say the trend is gaining momentum spurred by fear (and actual experience that power outages caused by major storms will become more common and also falling prices for solar, small wind, biogas and biomass generators, micro and kinetic hydropower, geo-exchange, CHP and cogeneration, etc.
And the nail in the coffin, will then become energy storage.
Commercial Energy Storage Set to Rise to 2.3 GW in 2017
According to a new report from IHS Inc., global installations of photovoltaic storage systems for commercial use, currently the smallest part of the global solar energy storage business, are projected to expand by a factor of 700 in the coming years and become the largest market segment in 2017, from only 3.2 MW in 2012. And thus will increase the commercial segment’s share of PV installations to 40 percent in 2017, up from 5 per cent in 2012.
North America is expected to lead the world in commercial PV storage, accounting for more than 40 percent of installations in 2017. So if electric utilities attempt to stifle net metering, energy users will just dedicate renewable-powered battery banks to dedicated loads, pulling them off the electric grid forever since and storage prices are beginning to fall low enough and systems are becoming more standardized and reliable. And since these storage systems do not need utility back-up, and thus no electric grid interface, utilities will be unable to throw up regulatory roadblocks.
The electric utility industries are not monolithic, and in fact the municipal utilities have been ardent supporters and leaders in energy efficiency, distributed generation, storage, and smart controls. In States with pro-active state utility commissions, traditional independently-owned utilities (IOUs) have also jumped on board.
But most of the utility industry is fighting to preserve the old utility supply model of the 19th and 20th centuries just as the phone company(s) attempted to throw their regulatory might against cellular (distributed communications), competition, and grid access. But the technology choices have already evolved to the point that consumers are willing to take the chance. The manufacturing and distribution economies-of-scale are already maturing in the energy efficiency, distributed and renewable energy, and energy storage industries.
So now it’s just a matter of time as consumers become more aware of their choices, state regulatory utility commissions become aware and accustomed to options in the market that is in many cases already out of their control, and the utility sector itself tries to navigate in a changing world whirring around them.
Lead image: Transmission via Shutterstock