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Energy Use Patterns: Understanding Your Load Profile

Key Points
  • A load profile shows energy demand variations over a specific amount of time, typically 24 hours.
  • Seasonal changes and work schedules influence load profiles for commercial and industrial facilities.
  • A number of operational and equipment changes can help you shift loads and save money. 

Electric metersIn most facilities, demand for energy varies significantly. Demand is the amount of energy used at a specific time; it's measured in kilowatts (kW). A load profile charts variations in demand over time, typically a single day. While your electric bill shows you how much energy your facility uses each month, your load profile provides insight into your daily energy use patterns throughout the year. This information can help you find ways to save money by shifting loads away from peak demand periods.

Measuring load profile

A load profile is a set of energy use data taken over a 24-hour period, typically on an hourly basis and displayed on a line chart. The most desirable load profile is as near to a flat line as possible, with minimal peaks and valleys.

Daily variations

In most cases, flat load profiles are the exception, as the energy use varies by the hour and the day of the week. The following chart represents the electrical use of a commercial facility during two summer days—Friday and Sunday. The curve shows the impact of the additional load during a workday compared to the weekend; the result of the use of computers, office equipment, lighting and air conditioning.

Load profile

The load profile of larger manufacturing plants often differs significantly from those of smaller facilities. Multiple shifts and energy-intensive processing equipment operating 24 hours per day can lessen the impact of lighting and space conditioning on daily energy use. ## Seasonal changes Summer air conditioning can push demand to another level in many facilities. The following charts show load profiles for Fridays in January, April and July. There is a strong upward curve in July, showing the influence of air conditioning on demand. 
Load profile
## Flattening the curves Once you've identified your load profile, you can map out a strategy to level your peak demand. Operational and equipment changes you can make include: - Raising building temperatures to as high as 78°F to reduce cooling demand; allow employees to wear appropriate clothing to ensure their comfort. - Adjusting work schedules to reduce energy use during peak demand periods; typically between 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. - Reducing lighting demand through the use of occupancy sensors and daylighting strategies. - Implementing building automation to schedule equipment and building systems to reduce demand. - Using backup generators to handle large electrical loads that must operate during peak periods. - Installing automatic sequencers on high-energy-use equipment to keep them from operating simultaneously.

Every facility has a unique energy use pattern. Determining yours is the best way to effectively minimize peak demand and save money on your energy bills.

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