Monday morning, you walk into the office and are hit by a wall of hot, humid, musty smelling air. You reach for the thermostat and crank up the air conditioning, lowering the temperature in an attempt to more quickly cool the building.

While it hasn’t yet warmed up enough for most of us it won’t be long before those air conditioning units are in full drive and you see those energy bills soar.

Commercial energy bills are not charged a consistent rate, however. The rate that they are charged may increase significantly due to higher demand loads. When you walked into the office that morning you turned on the air conditioner as well as all of the lights, which needs a whole bunch of energy all at the same time to get going. This is what causes a demand peak, and you are being charged for it. The same situation occurs if you are in a manufacturing setting and start a new line, or turn on a few pieces of equipment at the same time.

These high rates charged for your peak demand don’t necessarily stop when you turn off all of your equipment, or your temperature regulates and the AC units slow. The rates are often charged in 15 minute intervals. You could be paying these very high rates when you are not using that same intensity of energy.

So how do we stop these peak demand charges? Different buildings require different strategies. Some organizations increase automation, others use lower draw equipment. Finding the combination of solutions is the key. Be sure the company you contract with are looking at a full Energy Solution, and not simply pushing their product. A gradual approach to energy management will end up costing you more; an energy management company will look at your site as a whole and manage the projects within the improvement plan, leaving you free to run the business.

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