Saturday, April 28, 2012

Electrical Overkill: Heat Tape and Overlighting

Perhaps the thing I like best about doing energy audits is when I run into something that was not just poorly designed....it is completely idiotic.  Had two such situations yesterday.

The first one was actually described to me by a co-worker, but certainly merits inclusion here.  This building formerly had a cavity for utilities between the garage ceiling and the concrete plank above.  The ceiling was in disrepair, so it was removed.  What my buddy found was a large amount of piping in this cavity, with heat tracer tape wrapping EVERYTHING!  There was heat tape on the domestic cold water lines (normal), there was heat tape on the heating hot water supply piping (not normal), and there was heat tape on the chilled water supply piping (what???).  Furthermore, ALL of the heat tape was turned on, and there were no thermostatic controls or anything.  Think about this in the summer time....the heat tape is wrapping the chilled water supply....HEATING THE CHILLED WATER!  This is wasting electric several times over...and it is hilarious to think about somebody consciously deciding to wrap this stuff around chilled water piping.

The pic only shows half of the lights on THIS LEVEL of the stairwell!


Yesterday, I also saw a pretty ridiculous waste of electric.  I stepped out of the garage and into a stairwell at a 1 year old LEED-certified building in NYC.  Picture this: the entry door opened to a landing in the stairwell, which was an extra-wide stairwell.  From that point, the stairs lead both up and down.  If you can picture this, from the landing, all I could see was a flight of stairs leading up, a flight of stairs leading down, and the landing itself that I was standing on.  There were EIGHT 48" long T8 flourescent light fixtures in this area....probably 3x's more than required for adequate light levels.  Its like the lighting designer got click-happy in the CAD drawings or something.  Pretty ridiculous.

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