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Earth Day 2011 - Ensuring Efficiency

Today is Earth Day. To be honest, I didn't know much about Earth Day and Full Disk Image of Earthits history, so I headed over to and did a little reading. The summation of that reading is that we should be building a clean, healthy, and diverse world for generations to come. Dickson has done a handful of things to improve our carbon footprint, but you can to.

What You Can Do

Ensuring efficiency is about verifying that your systems (HVAC is one of the most important, but other systems can and do lose efficiency over time) are running as their specifications state.  Energy Star recommends a number of different methods to ensure efficiency:

  • Changing your air filter regularly
  • Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Seal your ducts
  • Use energy efficient appliances
  • Ensure proper installation

But, how can you know if any of those are actually having a positive effect? The Ajax Boiler company points out that energy audits are important in determining where you can make improvements in your system. The important part of an energy audit is establishing a baseline to know where you started

We offer a number of products that are great for establishing this baseline and tracking your energy efficiency and savings. For smaller offices you may want to use something like the TP125 which monitors temperature and humidity, where you bring the unit back to a computer and download the data with our software. For a larger building you may want to use the WH220 (part of our WiZARD2 Wireless System) because of its ability to transmit data back to a central location; this prevents you from having to run around the building collecting the loggers and downloading them. For warehouses, offices, and buildings large and small the FH525 may be a good option because it doesn't require software (unless you want to download the data) and all the controls, various views, and data is at your fingertips because of its large touchscreen display.

Once you've logged a good sample of data you can see areas that need improvement. Maybe the area is inconsistent and the HVAC unit has to turn on or off more than necessary or that an area really isn't utilized much and therefore doesn't need to be set to such a high temperature. Your energy goals are up to you, but Dickson can help you establish that baseline of data to possibly identify a starting point. If you have any questions just ask and we'll point you in the right direction.

What Dickson has Been Doing

Internally, we recently replaced the lighting in our entire building with newer inverters that consume less energy, but emit more light. Despite the original investment in the parts and labor, the reduced energy usage is not only good for the environment, but also leads to a reduced energy bill for us. I'd call that a win win.

Additionally, right around the start of winter, we were experiencing some employee discomfort because of the heating and cooling system in my part of the building. It turns out that our old thermostat wasn't working as it should be. We replaced the old thermostat with a modern programmable model. Not only are we more comfortable, but we've also programmed the unit to reduce the temperature while no one is in the office and then bring it right back up before we arrive in the morning.

You can see the previous idea illustrated in the red temperature line below. This chart is an actual recording of our office temperature (via the FH535) and you can see at about 5pm yesterday the temperature starts to decline for the night and just before 7am the temperature begins to rise again. This lowers the overall energy consumption of the HVAC system while employees are out of the office. Another interesting thing to note is that our system appears to be functioning well. From about 6am to 9am the system turns on and off while it attempts to stabilize itself. Just after 9am you can see the line flatten out and become rather flat. This is a good sign and it means that the thermostat and the actual machinery are working well to bring the office to a comfortable temperature.

HVAC Cycle

And here is an awesome video that captures Earth's beauty pretty well: