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8 Simple Ways to Successfully Reduce Energy for a Demand Response Event

So you have decided to enroll your facility in a demand response program.  You understand that your organization will be protecting the electric grid from blackouts and brownouts during times of high demand, and you are aware of the revenue your organization will earn from this program.  The only thing left to do is to work with your demand response provider and develop a successful reduction strategy to implement during an emergency event.  Although each organization is different and will require a tailored plan, there are eight main strategies that prove to be effective for most facilities.

1. On-Site Generators

If you have a generator that can take your facility partially or completely off the grid, it is important to keep it fully fueled and ready to respond during the hot summer months, when the grid operator typically issues emergency reduction events.  During the event, be sure the generator is not only functioning, but that the transfer switch is engaged which will actually displace the grid power.

Keep in mind, activating your generator 15 minutes before the event begins and keeping it on until 15 minutes after the event will ensure success.

2. Air Conditioning

Emergency events are usually held during the summer months when the sun is blazing and everyone is trying to stay cool by blasting the air conditioning.  Instead of simply turning the AC off and making your staff uncomfortably hot, there is a method that can prevent this.  It's called Pre-Cooling.

Let's assume you set the thermostat at 72°.  Two hours prior to the start of the event, you would reduce the thermostat to 66° and let your facility completely cool down.  When the event begins, you would increase the thermostat to 82°, preventing the AC from running any longer but ensuring your facility remains cool during the event.  Many facilities that include Pre-Cooling in their reduction strategy leave their air conditioning turned off for the entire event.

3. Lighting Fixtures

Shutting off any unnecessary lighting fixtures in your facility is the simplest method of reduction for any organization.  Identify all areas where lighting can be reduced, especially where natural sunlight will suffice.  You may not be able to completely reduce lighting in all areas, but shutting off even 50 percent will prove to be beneficial.

4. Chiller Capacity

If your facility operates any chilling systems, these can be manipulated in a way that will effectively reduce your electric consumption.  If possible, reduce chiller capacity by 25-50 percent.  Or, similar to Pre-Cooling, you can run the chilling systems at a higher rate before the event, and shut down during the event.

5. Equipment and Machinery

Depending on your facility, this strategy will have a varying effect on your level of reduction.  Manufacturing facilities can shut down production lines or other major machinery; hospitals can shut down medical equipment that consumes a large amount of energy; and office buildings and schools can unplug copiers and fax machines. 

During an emergency event, machinery and other equipment are usually the most susceptible to damage caused by voltage fluctuations.  When a utility is trying to avoid a blackout, they may reduce voltage across all or part of their system, commonly known as a brownout.  The only way to avoid damage to equipment caused by these voltage fluctuations is to completely shut down during the event.

6. Pumps, Fans, and Motors

Again, the success of this method will depend on your facility type.  Shutting down as many pumps, fans, and motors as possible will yield significant reductions.  For example, if your hotel or resort frequently runs a pool pump, make sure it is switched off for the duration of the event.

7. Freezers and Cold Storage

If you have any type of cold storage or freezers, turning those off entirely will yield a significant reduction.  It is important to make sure the doors to the unit remain closed during the event so the temperatures remain at an acceptable and safe level.

8. Kitchen and Dining

Facilities with kitchens and dining areas should reduce lighting and avoid using dishwashers, electric ovens, microwaves, fans, and other motors during an emergency event.  Unplugging freezers for at least one hour will be a sizeable contribution to your energy reduction plan.  Again, be sure to keep freezer doors closed to keep the internal temperature at an acceptable level.

By now, you should understand the basics of participating in demand response and common reduction strategies your facility can implement.  It is strongly suggested that you put your specific plan in writing and review it with the staff you will rely on to carry it out. 

If you have any additional questions, ECS has a full team of consultants and engineers who can assist you in developing the most effective reduction strategy.  Emergency events are rarely called, but when they are, it is important to be as aggressive as possible since your facility's payment will directly reflect your performance.  The more you reduce, the higher your payment!

Sarah Battaglia
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Sarah Battaglia's picture

Thank Sarah for the Post!

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Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on Jun 17, 2013 6:00 pm GMT
You left out something Sarah. You forgot to mention that the most important strategy is to elect politicians who will make sure that the education system is so efficient that your advice is superfluous. I noticed that in Brazil there were persons carrying signs saying that 'WE DONT NEED THE WORLD CUP. WHAT WE NEED ARE HOSPITALS AND SCHOOLS.' On the basis of what I saw. read and heard the last time I was in the US, the need for the right kind of schools is greater than ever.
Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jun 17, 2013 6:00 pm GMT
Might take a look at co-generation and/or emergency back-up. Variable speed motor drives (pumps & fans) can also be useful. Capacitor banks can also be used to alter power factors - some utilities provide discounts for VAR management. These kinds of investments tend to make sense with paybacks of less than 4 years or if the business is severely impacted by major grid voltage reductions (or outright loss of power).
Lopez Jhon's picture
Lopez Jhon on Jul 26, 2014 6:00 pm GMT
Energy saving is need for every nation, and every individual is responsible to save energy at his/her end. "if we can afford energy, then it dose not means that we should waste it".

Its a very useful content and I would appreciate if you can write some thing for my blog as well at

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