Spring clean your BEMS

As outdoor temperatures rise, and the evenings become lighter, it can be a good time of year to give your building energy management system (BEMS) a spring clean. Time invested now in maintaining the system will pay dividends in reduced energy waste as the summer arrives.

During the cold months, it is easy for occupants to push up thermostats to the maximum to make themselves more comfortable. Now is a good time to start returning these to standard set points, and perhaps to ask if those points could be a bit more relaxed this year.

Allowing internal temperatures to rise slightly above the ‘standard’ 21oC can save thousands in energy costs because the building’s cooling system doesn’t have to work so hard. It is important to ensure staff understand why this strategy has been adopted, and to encourage them to dress appropriately for a warmer office.

Misplaced sensors are one of the major causes of energy waste in non-domestic buildings. And it’s not that the sensors are in the wrong position – often rearrangement of the office space can leave sensors in offices rather than open-plan areas, or over photocopiers that have been moved. Check that your temperature sensors are not registering the warm environment of a small office and cooling a large space unnecessarily.

Summer is a good time to consider zoning your control system if it hasn’t been done already. If one side of the building is prone to overheating in the warm months, your BEMS should be set up in zones to ensure that the cooling system only works in those areas where it is required. Otherwise, occupants on the ‘cold’ side of the building may resort to tactics like under-desk heaters to keep warm.

You may also want to consider options such as night cooling, where warm air is flushed from the building overnight to reduce the requirement for cooling during the day. The UK climate is particularly suited to this technique, and your BEMS can be used to automate this process.

Lighter mornings and evenings may also mean that you can make more use of daylighting, so it is useful to check timer systems on office lighting or to ensure that lighting sensors are operating correctly.

Finally, if you are undertaking a review of the BEMS, this will be an opportunity to review the data that is collected. Are there trends of energy peaks that don’t fit your usual patterns? This can help to identify areas of waste such as boilers being on over the weekend when they are not required.

A simple review can take as little as a few days, but you could be seeing the benefits on reduced energy bills all the way into to next winter.