Sunday, January 20, 2008

Utility Billing Practices Discouraging Energy Savings?

First The Dean pointed out a possibility that Kroger could save electricty by putting doors on its refrigerator units.

Then the California Energy Commission came out with some class-A Bravo Sierra about wanting to control your thermostat remotely.

(Update: Per The Dean of Cincinnati, Duke Energy has a similar idea for our area.)

Now someone at Slashdot has posted a message about whether or not most people power down at night, both from an energy savings standpoint but also from a network security standpoint.

This got me to thinking about something that someone mentioned all the way back when I was an Electronics Engineering major at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

Now, I have never been responsible for paying a commerical electric bill, but it has been explained to me that it is WAY different from a residential bill.

As it has been explained to me, whereas a residential bill can be a great deal less, say, in April and October than it is in January or August because, in this climate, you have to use far less energy for heating and cooling in the spring and autumn months, for a business this is not the case.

If I understand it correctly, the rates for a white-collar business are generally set only once a year - in August - when the business is drawing both the energy needed to operate (lighting and computers) in addition to what can be MASSIVE air conditioning costs during the part of the year.

I have heard that the justification for this type of billing is that the electric companies say that they have to build enough infrastructure to handle the PEAK load, so, if I understand it correctly, businesses get charged as if they were pulling August-level loads ALL THE TIME.

If true, this definitely doesn't seem fair, and, more importantly, it doesn't encourage companies to develop fuel-saving practices.

Yes, there are sometimes needs for office PC's to be left on overnight - system upgrades and so on, but, sitting here well into the 21st century, you'd think we could have invented a motherboard that could keep the ethernet card alert on a "trickle" and then only fire up the rest of the system upon being signaled by the server or something of the sort? You'd think by now we could come up with a system that could automatically start the boot-up process at, oh, say, 7:50am for those systems that take a loooooooooong time to boot up?

Of course, while we're on that topic, I'm guessing the amount of GAS burned up having to go across town and back every day just to sit in a cubicle and EMAIL people all day would DWARF any discussion of power burned up by computers idling all night ...

Audio Comments:

Alright, Dean ... we get the point. :)



At January 20, 2008 at 5:50 PM, Blogger The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Duke energy has a thermostat switch too.


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