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Energy Management Technologies

Energy Management Technologies

Have you ever stayed in a hotel room with a key card? Although the rectangle of plastic may not look like much, it's a useful tool to prevent wasted energy. Placing the key card in its slot acts as a switch, only turning on electricity and thermostats when the room is occupied. The presence of the key card acts as an occupancy sensor.

That may not be the only occupancy sensor in a hotel room. Opening the door of a mini fridge switches on the internal light. Closing the door switches it off again – saving electricity when the light isn't needed.

Want to know more about occupancy sensing technologies, and other ways of managing energy use? Take a look at this article!


Carbon Emissions and Energy Management

Most of our energy comes from fossil fuels. These carbon-rich deposits are burned to produce energy: either directly as thermal energy, or used to generate electricity in power stations.

Although fossil fuels are an excellent source of energy, they are detrimental to the environment. Burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas.

Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in Earth's atmosphere, warming the planet.

Burning large amounts of fossil fuels increases the amount of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, leading to climate change. Furthermore, burning fossil fuels (especially coal) releases harmful pollutants, impacting the environment and human health.

Managing Energy Use in the Home

Did you know that buildings are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions? That sounds like an insanely large amount – until you consider heating, power, electricity, and construction. So, cutting down on energy usage in our homes is an effective way to reduce our carbon footprint. Managing energy use also brings financial benefits. In 2021, the average UK household spent £1339 on gas and electricity to heat and power their homes. Cutting down on energy saves money!

Energy Management Technologies jumpers carbon emission and energy management StudySmarterFigure 1 – Next time you feel cold, save energy by putting on another layer instead of turning up the heating. Source: unsplash.com

Energy Demand Management Technologies

What is energy demand management?

Energy demand management is the modification of energy demand through financial incentives and behavioural changes.

Usually, energy demand management aims to encourage the consumer to use less energy during peak hours, or transfer energy usage to off-peak times such as nighttime and weekends.

Energy demand management strategies are mostly used at industrial or commercial scales, not in residential areas.

Load Shifting vs Peak Shaving

There are two main strategies used in energy demand management: load shifting and peak shaving. What are the differences between them?

Load shifting is a temporary reduction in electricity consumption, followed by an increase in production off-peak when power prices or grid demand is lower.

In load shifting, the total energy consumption stays the same.

Peak shaving (also called load shedding) occurs when power usage is reduced temporarily to avoid a spike in consumption.

Peak shaving can be done by scaling down production, activating on-site power generation, or relying on a battery. Unlike load shifting, the total energy consumption decreases.

Innovative Energy Management Technologies

These innovative technologies limit wasted energy. There may be some in your home right now!

Occupancy Sensors

An occupancy sensor is an electronic device used to detect the presence of a person, and automatically control lights, temperature, or ventilation systems.

What are the most common types of sensing technology?

Technology
How Does it Work?
Passive Infrared Sensors
They use changes in temperature to detect movement and presence of people.
Ultrasonic Sensors
They emit high-frequency sound waves outside the range of human hearing. The sensor uses the Doppler effect of returning sound waves to detect the presence of people.
Time of Flight Infrared Sensors
They work like ultrasonic sensors, but use invisible infrared radiation. These sensors are highly advanced; they provide accurate data for occupancy levels and space utilisation.
Camera-based Sensors
Cameras are activated to record images when motion is detected.

The Doppler effect is the change in frequency of a wave relative to an observer.

As well as controlling energy usage, occupancy sensors can be used to detect footfall. By highlighting the occupancy level of rooms, building managers can use the data to improve hygiene standards of busy areas.

Occupancy sensors can be found in key card slots and fridges.

Improved Insulation

Adding insulation to walls, floors, and doors can limit heat loss, thus reducing the demand for central heating.

The most common insulating material is glasswool – a material made from fibres of glass, but with a similar texture to wool. It's better at insulating homes than asbestos – and lacks the health risks.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate material. Until the 1990s, it was widely used as an insulating material in buildings. If it's damaged or released, tiny fibres can be inhaled. Associated health problems include:

  • Pleural disease, affecting outer lung tissue
  • Asbestosis – scarring of the lungs
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma – cancer of outer organ tissue

Automatic and Solar Ventilation

Innovative technologies can be used to ventilate and cool rooms without the use of energy.

Automatic ventilation uses automatically controlled windows to provide natural ventilation. Air is exchanged through the windows via temperature difference and wind pressure, without the use of fans or air conditioning systems.

Alternatively, solar ventilation uses a solar-powered fan to ventilate and dehumidify rooms.

Benefits of Ventilation

We all prefer fresh air to a hot, stuffy classroom. But ventilation is more important than you might realise.

  • Breathing fresh air promotes respiratory health, and reduces the risk of catching airborne illnesses or infections.

  • Fresh air has a high oxygen content. This strengthens your immune system, boosts digestion, and improves cell function.

  • The enhanced oxygen content can positively impact your mood and wellbeing. Oxygen promotes the release of serotonin (a mood-boosting hormone), and makes it easier for you to concentrate in lessons.

Heat Exchangers

Heat exchangers are used to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another.

They improve a system's efficiency by transferring waste heat to locations where it can be useful. In the home, heat exchangers draw heat into a boiler, or draw heat away from a refrigerator or freezer.

There are three types of heat exchanger: shell and tube, plate, or air-cooled.

Heat ExchangerHow Does it Work?
Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger
It's a large cylindrical shell encasing a bundle of smaller tubes. The internal tubes often 'float' in the centre of the cylinder, allowing expansion and contraction – and making it easier to service. They're typically found in boilers.
Plate Heat Exchanger
It works similarly to the shell and tube exchanger, but using a series of stacked plates instead of tubes. It has a larger surface area than shell and tube exchangers, allowing rapid heat exchange. They're typically found in boilers.
Air-cooled Heat Exchanger
Instead of water, air-cooled exchangers use fans or air flow through engines. They're typically found in vehicles.

Low-Energy Appliances in the Home

The technologies that we've covered so far limit wasted energy. Now, we're going to cover technologies that reduce energy demand.

Alternative Light Bulbs

The 'traditional' lightbulb is an incandescent lightbulb. The round bulb uses electricity to heat a wire filament until it glows. Incandescent lightbulbs are highly inefficient. They are being phased out, replaced by CFLs and LEDs.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

CFL bulbs are a more energy-efficient option for incandescent applications, utilising a compact spiral design. An electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a gas-filed tube, creating UV radiation and heat. The radiation hits a phosphor coating, converting it to light. CFL bulbs take a while to fully light up, but only use 25-35% of the energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Long LED bulbs produce light when an electric current passes through them. They're by far the most efficient type of lightbulb; using 75% less energy and lasting 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Although they have a much greater initial cost, they save the average American citizen an estimated $165 on electricity per year.

Energy Management Technologies LED lightbulbs low energy appliances in the home StudySmarterFigure 2 – Many LED bulbs contain a 'filament' design to emanate incandescent bulbs. Source: unsplash.com

'Low-Energy' White Goods

White goods are large home appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and tumble driers.

White goods require large amounts of energy to operate. When buying a new appliance, choose 'low-energy' (a.k.a. energy-efficient) white goods that reduce energy usage and cut bills. New white goods are given an energy rating on a scale from A to G, where A is the most efficient and G is the least.

Energy Management technology fridge white goods low energy appliances in the home StudySmarterFigure 3 – Fridges and freezers account for 13% of the average energy bill. Source: unsplash.com

Sometimes, buying a new appliance isn't feasible. How can we reduce the energy requirements of our existing white goods?

  • Load the dishwasher to its indicated capacity

  • Cook in bulk

  • Use appropriately sized pans to minimise heat loss

  • Regularly defrost the freezer

  • Keep oven and fridge doors closed

  • Be aware of 'standby mode' – switch devices off fully when not in use


I hope that this article has explained energy management technologies for you. It's important to manage energy use in the home, by reducing energy demand and waste.

Energy Management Technologies - Key takeaways

  • Buildings are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions. Cutting down energy use in the home is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint, and save money on energy bills.
  • Energy demand management is the modification of energy demand through financial incentives and behavioural changes. Load shifting moves energy usage to off-peak times, while peak shaving reduces overall energy use.
  • There is a range of innovative management technologies that limit wasted energy, such as occupancy sensors, improved insulation, automatic and solar ventilation, and heat exchangers.
  • Switching to high-efficiency LED bulbs and white goods can decrease energy usage in the home.

1. British Lung Foundation, Asbestos-related conditions, 20222. Colin Rowe, How much is the average gas and electricity bill per month?, Money Helper, 2022

3. Energy Saving Trust, Top five energy consuming home appliances, 2022

4. ProCal, LED Vs CFL Bulbs: Which Is More Energy Efficient And Better For The Earth?, 2020

5. World Green Building Council, Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions about Energy Management Technologies

Energy management techniques focus on reducing energy usage in the home.

Smart energy management systems use technology to minimise energy usage.

EMS stands for energy management systems.

The three parts of energy management are shifting demand, limiting wasted energy, and reducing energy demand.

Most of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases and pollutants. Managing energy use limits carbon emissions, and cuts costs.

Final Energy Management Technologies Quiz

Question

What percentage of carbon emissions come from buildings?

Show answer

Answer

39%

Show question

Question

Define energy demand management.

Show answer

Answer

Energy demand management is the modification of energy demand through financial incentives and behavioural changes.

Show question

Question

Load shifting decreases total energy consumption, while peak shaving stays the same.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is an occupancy sensor?

Show answer

Answer

An occupancy sensor is an electronic device used to detect the presence of a person, and automatically control lights, temperature, or ventilation systems.

Show question

Question

What is the most common insulation material?

Show answer

Answer

The most common insulating material is glasswool.

Show question

Question

How does solar ventilation work?

Show answer

Answer

Solar ventilation uses a solar-powered fan to ventilate and dehumidify rooms.

Show question

Question

What are heat exchangers used for?

Show answer

Answer

Heat exchangers are used to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another.

Show question

Question

Which heat exchanger is used in cars?

Show answer

Answer

Air-cooled

Show question

Question

How much more efficient are LEDs than traditional incandescent bulbs?

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Answer

75%

Show question

Question

Define white goods.

Show answer

Answer

White goods are large home appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and tumble driers.

Show question

Question

Which types of occupancy sensors use the Doppler effect?

Show answer

Answer

Ultrasonic Sensors

Show question

Question

Name some benefits of ventilation.

Show answer

Answer

Ventilation promotes respiratory health, improves cell function, and positively impacts mood and concentration.

Show question

Question

What does CFL stand for?

Show answer

Answer

CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamps.

Show question

Question

What does LED stand for?

Show answer

Answer

LED stands for light-emitting diode.

Show question

Question

How much money did the average UK household spend on gas and electricity in 2021?

Show answer

Answer

£1339

Show question

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