Press Release - June 2001
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Trane Energy Shortage Survey - California

Reliable Controls ST. PAUL, Minn.  - More than 70 percent of California companies said the energy shortage has significantly impacted their business, according to a survey of building managers in the state. However, nearly half of those responding don't know how their companies will address the problem.

The survey, conducted by SWR Worldwide for Trane, the nation's largest provider of commercial and industrial air conditioning systems, energy management and building controls, found that while two-thirds of the companies expect unplanned blackouts in the next 12 months, 47 percent either don't have a strategy to address the impact of the energy shortage or don't know if their company has a plan.

The survey also found that four out of five businesses have placed restrictions on only their use of lighting, while few have looked at other means to improve energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)/Energy Information Administration, commercial and industrial businesses in California consume nearly 64 percent of electrical energy in the state.*

Heating and air conditioning systems alone can represent almost half of a facility's utility bill. New technologies and upgrades in heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, in building automation systems and other equipment as well as lighting can save considerable energy and cost in nearly all major systems in a building. The survey also indicated that companies were unclear what steps they could take to conserve energy and 44 percent said they were interested in getting assistance to help lower costs.

More than 80 percent of control systems today aren't used effectively. The following energy-saving steps can help businesses save up to 30 percent on their utility bill:

1. Review building control systems. Check to see if the system uses outside air for cooling, night setbacks and "start" and "stop" settings. (It can be more efficient to bring in outside air than to spend energy - and money - making your own.)

2. Perform preventive maintenance. Simple tasks like replacing filters, cleaning condensers for the rooftop systems and cleaning tubes for chilled water systems can have a significant impact on efficiency.

3. Conduct a building tune up. A building's performance can change as it gets older, so it's important to periodically check components (air conditioning, lighting, elevator operation, etc.) and make adjustments as needed. This is known in the building industry as "recommissioning."

4. Explore system upgrades. Consider investing in more comprehensive solutions that can provide quick paybacks such as adding free cooling/heating recovery (the heat or cold air being exchanged helps heat or cool the air that is brought in), variable frequency drives (similar to a dimmer switch used with lighting) and thermal energy storage (storing energy for use when rates are higher).

5. Consider alternative fuel options. Use gas cooling and cogeneration (using more than one energy source) to provide more energy options.

SWR Worldwide surveyed 200 California business managers in manufacturing, transportation, retail trade, real estate, hotel/lodging and education, responsible for making financial decisions about energy systems. The survey, conducted in April 2001, has a sampling error of 6.9 percent and a 95 percent confidence level.

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