Know Your Zones

by Apr 10, 2015Tip Of The Week

Shawn’s Tip Of The Week: Do a zone audit

In my tip from two weeks ago, I mentioned a “zone audit” as a great way to save energy without spending a lot of money. This idea deserves a deeper look, so today I’ll explain how a zone audit works, and why you should do one.

Zone audits start from a simple idea: there is no reason to heat or cool an empty room (in the vast majority of cases). Unless you have sensitive equipment or a freeze risk, heating or cooling a vacant room just burns your money.

Walk your building and take note of any area that’s not occupied. And get a schedule from management or tenants so you know when to expect vacancies. Is the 8th floor vacant ahead of an upcoming renovation? Is the company on the 12th going away for a retreat next week?

If the area isn’t being occupied, close the specific valves or dampers which supply heat (steam, hot water, or forced air) or cooling (chilled water, forced air) to that zone. I know that this is a simple concept, but if you don’t stay on top of it, you’re wasting money and creating unnecessary wear on your equipment.

I saw a great example in a school recently. The school has zone valves to places like the auditorium, gym, and cafeteria, three massive spaces where occupancy is known to fluctuate, but they were worried that they were wasting money conditioning those big areas when they weren’t occupied. By adding a specific check to their rounds routine and monitoring the events schedules for those locations, they avoid waste.

Just like turning off lights in an unused room, this is a concept that’s both simple and smart. Do a zone audit. It’s well worth it.

Header image via Flickr User Tom Cavnar/Creative Commons

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