When the subject of energy savings comes up, technology is often the main focus but scientists are starting to realize that human nature has a lot to do with sustainability. In fact, engineers are now turning to social scientists to help them gain a better understanding of human behavior when it comes to energy use and how we can get people to use less energy.
If systems within buildings are going to be optimized, it helps to know how people’s behavior impacts technology outputs. The idea is that there is a certain amount of energy that can be saved through behavioral measures. Studies in Europe suggest that the adoption of carbon psychology could save the wholesale/retail, administrative/support, and manufacturing sectors hundreds of millions of dollars.
Energy audits are an efficient way to collect the data needed to find power inefficiencies. More energy experts are suggesting that human behavior should be part of those audits.
Tata Steel in South Wales has taken carbon psychology into consideration. The plant used an outside energy company to analyze a certain section of their facility to get a better understanding of behavior among staff and then developed a model of behavior that would save energy. One of the steps they took was installing a smart dashboard on-site to monitor manufacturing lines. Here is how it works: When a line stops running, the dashboard can track the line against baseline energy consumption thus determining whether or not it has been optimally stopped. This kind of data allows management to see when and how energy is being wasted, as well as what actions can be taken to prevent it.
Another UK based business has used what they refer to as energy ambassadors to measure human behavior. In a pilot programme, Tesco, a grocery and homewares provider, had ambassadors that assessed 70 human behaviours and offered suggestions for improvement. The programme, which involved 120 Tesco stores, ended up leading to an average 2 percent energy reduction at all the stores.
Representatives from Tesco reported that through further examination of shutdown procedures and validating savings via metering, the annual savings went up even more. The company is now looking at more approaches to saving energy.
As demonstrated by both Tata and Tesco, “seeing is believing” and once you start to see real savings, you start to wonder where else you can lower energy costs. With the help of energy experts, including those who understand carbon psychology, you can make a big difference when it comes to eliminating waste in terms of energy.