Vol. 22   No. 2
July 2016
  • MGE Talks Business
Energy Trends

Control Peak Electric Use This Summer

Control Peak Electric Use This Summer

Controlling peak electric use is a smart addition to your summer to-do list. It helps you save money now and in the future.

Most businesses reach their maximum electric demand in summer when cooling loads increase. That higher use can increase electric demand charges throughout the year if you have a demand component in your rate.

Cooling loads rise in summer. Air-conditioning plays a big role, but other factors contribute:

  • Fans and air handlers often use more power in warm weather.
  • Refrigeration equipment works harder to dispel heat.
  • Solar gain through windows and walls is more significant.

Take action

What can businesses do to manage their peak demand and energy costs?

Start with no- or low-cost measures to limit equipment operating hours. Turn off equipment manually or automatically with simple controls such as timers or sensors. Consider investing in a building energy management system for even greater savings. A free energy assessment from MGE helps you identify cost-effective energy strategies.

More energy-saving ideas

  • During summer, use a programmable thermostat, allowing temperatures to rise during unoccupied periods and resume cooling during work hours. Programmable thermostats can save an average of 5% on your annual operating costs for cooling and heating.
  • Clean and inspect cooling equipment. Regular maintenance and tune-ups can save up to 15% of system energy use and prolong equipment life. Inspect economizers on rooftop cooling equipment. They use outside air for cooling when outdoor air temperatures are cooler than return air. Mechanical issues can prevent them from operating properly, substantially increasing cooling costs.
  • Check air handlers and fans. Review supply-air schedules and reduce or shut off outside air during unoccupied times. Ensure that exhaust fans are turned off when the building is not occupied.
  • Close blinds or shades during the day to keep out heat from the sun.
  • Consider window films. They can be applied to the inner surface of the window. Films can reduce solar heat gain, inside temperature and cooling loads and improve shatter resistance.
  • Set lighting schedules based on space occupancy.
  • Stagger equipment run times.

For more help call our Business Energy Line at 252-7007.

Time-of-use customers: Consider when you use electricity

Time-of-use (TOU) electric rates reflect the cost of producing electricity at different times of the day. You can reduce energy costs by operating energy-intensive equipment during off-peak hours when electricity costs less.

Electricity costs more when the demand for power from all customers is heaviest. At MGE, higher-priced, "on-peak" periods are weekdays between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. During these periods, it is more expensive for MGE to buy or generate power. On-peak hours take up only 55 hours per week—rates are less expensive at all other times.

For more information, visit mge.com/biztou.