Plug and process loads refer to electric equipment that is plugged into an outlet; for example plug-in appliances and electronics including refrigeration, cooking devices, medical treatment equipment, window AC units and portable heaters, TVs, computers, printers, copiers, etc (electrical loads except HVAC, lighting, or service hot water). These loads are the fastest growing source of electricity usage in both residential and commercial buildings and consume approximately one-third of primary energy in commercial buildings. Plug and process loads are projected to increase from 30% to 35% of total commercial building energy consumption between 2010 and 2025 due to an increasing number of plug-in devices and energy consumption of these devices.
There are two ways to encourage the reduction of plug and process loads. First, residents can purchase more efficient electric appliances. Second, plug load management devices can reduce electricity use, especially in commercial buildings.
Develop an initiative to raise awareness — provide energy meters for residential and commercial customers to measure the amount of power consumed by home and office electronics use, and resources to learn about easy-to-install options for plug load reduction.
Create a program to encourage residents and businesses to replace old energy-inefficient electronics with Energy Star models and easy-to-use intelligent power strips and management systems to completely shut off unused electronics to eliminate wasted energy from phantom loads. A number of commercial products and services are available to assist business owners with this.
People don’t realize how much energy plug-in equipment uses and most devices are hard to turn off when not in use (ex: monitors, TVs, game systems, printers, copy machines, etc.)
People are reluctant to replace inefficient equipment that is still operable, so raising awareness of the energy consumption of electronic plug-in devices is critical and plug load management is important to reduce wasted energy. However, this technology must be installed at each outlet that is in use.
Lack of awareness of the latest plug load management technology and software for commercial entities.
Relatively small impact until sufficient participation levels are reached to reduce communitywide energy usage. However, cost savings can be meaningful for individual residential and non-residential consumers.
High upfront costs for electric appliances that are more efficient can be a barrier for equipment replacement. Therefore, installing plug load management devices provide an attractive alternative.
Several municipalities have already implemented this action…
- As part of Local Law 88, New York City requires non-residential buildings greater than 25,000 feet to install sub-meters which detail how much energy is being used by tenants in order to encourage these tenants to reduce it over time. It also shows tenants how much electricity their peers are using to further inspire reduced plug load use.
- The city of Emeryville, California intends to reduce plug loads throughout its city, by “activating any energy saving features on your plug load equipment and by using occupancy sensor plug load shut-off devices, such as occupancy sensed power strips.”
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions
CO2e emission due to usage of electricity for all residential buildings in Bethlehem, NY: 19648 metric tons per year [Bethlehem, NY 2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, Page 16, table1]
Energy saved in percentage when using energy star appliances: 30% [SaveOnEnergy]
We calculated the:
- CO2 emissions reduction for all residential units after using energy star appliances.
5890 Metric tons of CO2e is reduced per year when all residential households switch to energy star appliances with reduced plug load.
This results LARGE GHG emissions reductions.
Climate Smart Communities (CSC) & Clean Energy Communities (CEC) Link
This action is also related to CSC and CEC actions for which municipalities can earn points toward certification. Municipalities that develop and implement a formal public campaign can:
- Earn 200 CEC points through CEC’s High Impact Action, Community Campaign for Demand Response.
- Earn 3 CSC points through CSC’s PE8 Action: Community Campaign for Demand Response.
There are multiple co-benefits to completing this action, including:
- Greater awareness of cost of ownership of plug-in devices, and in particular electronic gaming devices.
- Accelerated replacement of inefficient devices.
- Economic savings from replacing old energy inefficient appliances and electronics.
NREL provides a discussion of commercial plug loads.
The United States Energy Department provides several useful documents regarding plug use and the positives associated with limiting plug use:
The Department of Energy provides a guide for reducing electricity from appliances and electronics with details on how much one stands to save from energy efficiency improvements.
The Department of Energy also provides its “Better Buildings” document which specifies the savings that come along with reduced plug loads.
The Department of Energy provides information on reducing residential plug-load energy use through nonintrusive submetering and personalized feedback.
The U.S. General Services Administration, through its Sustainable Facilities Tool, further explains plug use and the positive effects associated with limiting their use.
Sustainable Stanford published a fact sheet on reducing plug load energy consumption.
s/Decision_Guides_for_PPL_Controls_0.pdf , p. 2.