Submeters show savvy power strips drop energy demand 9% per day over a 105-day study across three tenants and 57,000 square feet.

In less time than it took to finish an Açaí bowl, I counted 13 electric Bird scooters zipping up and down a sunny street in San Francisco this past Saturday afternoon. Earlier that week, Uber purchased an electric bicycle share company for $100 million. My toothbrush, impact driver, and headphones are battery powered. We use an infrared thermometer on Thanksgiving.

Stop and look and you will see The Economist’s Electrify Everything trend connecting much of our urban landscape. Have you wondered what all of these devices are doing to your building’s baseload, and if there is anything you can do about it?

Plug load management submeter data

The messaging campaign–kickoff meeting, lunch & learn, emails, signage, and a pledge–had no impact on energy use.

Plug load management looks easy–turning things off to save energy sounds simple. I’ve worked on internal energy efficiency efforts at a professional services firm before, and know how hard it is to change behavior on no-brainer best practices like shutting down monitors after hours. I carry scars from that effort to this day. And so it is exciting to see the dataset from a test of two different plug load management methods in a study by the Institute for Market Transformation, the Waypoint Building Group, and the real estate owner Tower Companies.

The study spanned 105 days: 30 days in feasibility, 30 days for baselining, and 45 days of intervention. Three separate floors in the same building were involved, one for advanced power strip installs (including scheduled strips and occupancy sensory strips), one for education & messaging, and one for control. Low-voltage plug load panels on each tenant floor were identified and submetered. The bulk of the savings from the advanced power strips are achieved after-hours; the messaging pamphlets and educational efforts had no effect.

There are a handful of useful insights in the IMT’s study and it’s interesting to see three out of the ten recommendations hinge on tenant engagement. While it’s inspiring to get a hard dataset on plug load management, the 1% ROI and 10 year payback–in a calculation that includes utility incentives–won’t sway many CAPEX budgets on the dollars here alone. However, the IMT notes the convergence in price of programmable power strips with new “standard” power strips, and the cost savings opportunity of kitting out your tenant’s floor during a TI.




About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

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