Business Cost Consultants

An introduction to base load energy in a business

Blog post   •   Aug 06, 2013 17:04 BST

Whilst we are a business that regularly hypes the reduction of energy consumption, there are some forms of energy use that cannot be reduced.

This is called the base load. The amount of energy that has to be moving through a building at all times and cannot be turned off.

For a building that houses a business this will usually be the the amount of energy used outside of operational hours. So the times of day that nobody is in the office (during the night, usually) when most pieces of equipment are switched off.

But obviously, there are some types of electricity or gas usage that will always be active. Such as security lighting or the fridge in the office kitchen where the milk is kept.

This is your base load usage.

As I said, your base load usage cannot be reduced. But in the interest of clarification we are referring to energy usage that absolutely-100%-cannot-be-reduced-because-you-have-already-analysed-it-and-it-as-low-as-can-be. If the energy being used in a business at all times could still be lower than it is not a true base load.

If you have a half hourly meter installed then you have the right to obtain your readings from your supplier (there is no obligation for suppliers using other smart meters to provide such readings) and from here you can compare energy usage during operational hours to non-operational hours.

There should be a significant difference between the amount of energy used during non-operational hours and operational hours. If there is not, then it could be taken as a warning sign that checks need to be taken to make sure that electricity is not unnecessarily charging the building overnight. As part of our consumption reduction service we compare our similarly sized clients' energy usage to help determine if any of them are using a suspiciously high amount.

Situations which can lead to a higher than desired overnight bill:

  • heating left on 24/7
  • PCs left on (at BCC we leave them plugged in for updates exclusively on a Thursday night)
  • air conditioning
  • leaving fax machines and printers on
  • conveyor belts (and other machinery) not turned off

Essentially, anything that is left on overnight (but doesn't need to be) will lead to an unnecessarily high base load.

Why is this important?

Establishing a base load will allow a business to firstly recognise if there is a chance employees are leaving equipment on overnight. Then secondly it will provide the business with a benchmark for how much their energy bills should be. If for some reason a business's energy bill increases one month, having this benchmark will allow a manager to quickly establish if something being left on overnight is the cause or not.

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