Excerpt: Research engineers have shown that
electricity costs for office buildings can be reduced by up to 40
percent by running air conditioning overnight.
"Pre-cooling" structures so that it takes less power to cool
buildings during times of peak demand is not a new technique. But
engineers at Purdue University are the first researchers to create
a computer-simulation tool that can be "tuned" to a specific
building and used to document the savings that would be realized
by using the technique for that specific building. The analysis
tool takes into account factors including utility rates and
climate, and it can be used to tailor the best pre-cooling
strategy for individual buildings.
The pre-cooling technique is especially practical in areas
where utility companies are having trouble meeting demands for
electricity. In those areas, the price for daytime electricity is
much higher than the price charged overnight.
The tool was tested on a four-floor, 1.4 million-square-foot
Ameritech Corp. office building in the Chicago-area suburb of
Hoffman Estates, Ill. The simulation showed that a pre-cooling
technique could reduce electricity costs by as much as 41 percent
during the hottest summer months.