Power Today | June 2009

Feature

Saving factor
Energy conservation is the need of the hour, says JAGVIR GOYAL

Today, almost everything runs on electricity. Life gets thrown out of gear whenever a power failure occurs. The demand for power is rising in geometrical progression and is always outstripping the supply. As a result, the electricity is becoming dearer and costlier. Such a situation demands that the country should explore maximum avenues for capacity addition. At the same time, a major campaign to save electricity and conserve energy needs to be launched.

Energy conservation has become the need of the hour. Yet it is hardly practiced. Big efforts have been made by Government of India and Bureau of Energy Efficiency to make people aware of its need through vigorous campaigns launched from time to time. For an individual, electricity saved is money saved. For power producers, electricity saved is electricity produced. The energy sources are dwindling. A breakthrough in exploitation of non conventional energy sources on a mass scale is yet to be achieved. Abundant solar energy is there but percentage of its use is fractional. All these factors sum up to send strong signals for energy conservation.

Advent of CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) has been welcomed by people. Their use is increasing. But these have not so far made a noticeable drop in energy consumption. Use of electric gadgets continues to increase. Many guidelines for efficient use of these gadgets have been suggested by the experts through print and electronic media. Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) also suggests many simple tips on saving electricity and reducing electricity bills. These can be easily exercised by the individuals. Here are a few of them:

Tips on optimum lighting:
• As far as possible use task lighting, which focuses light where it’s needed.
• Dirty tube lights and bulbs reflect less light and can absorb 50 per cent of the light; dust them off regularly.
• Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) convert electricity to visible light up to 5 times more efficiently than ordinary bulbs and save about 70 per cent of electricity. A 15-watt CFL produces same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
• Ninety per cent of the energy consumed by an ordinary bulb goes off as heat rather than visible light.
• Many automatic devices such as infrared sensors, automatic timers, dimmers and solar cells help in saving energy used in lighting.

Tips on use of Air Conditioners:
• Fans cost about Rs 0.30 paisa per hour while ACs cost about Rs 10.00 per hour. So use ACs as sparingly as possible.
• Plant trees and shrubs around your house to keep the hottest sun off. Shading house’s windows and walls may increase the efficiency of ACs by as much as 40 per cent.
• Each degree above 220C increases AC efficiency by 3 to 5 per cent. Set the thermostat of AC at 250C to have best comfort at least cost.
• Clean the air-conditioner filter every month. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and may damage the unit.
• Old AC may need repair and may be inefficient. It may prove economical to replace it with a new energy-efficient air conditioner.
• Keep doors to air-conditioned rooms closed.

Tips on use of Refrigerator:
• Refrigerator motors and compressors generate heat. Allow enough space for continuous airflow around refrigerator.
• A full refrigerator is fine, but be sure to allow adequate air circulation inside.
• When it’s dark, place a lit flashlight inside the refrigerator and close the door. If light around the door is seen, the seals need to be replaced.
• Keep the refrigerator away from all sources of heat, including direct sunlight, radiators and appliances such as the oven, and cooking range.
• Allow hot and warm foods to cool and cover them well before putting them in refrigerator. Refrigerator will use less energy and condensation will reduce.
• Think of what you need before opening refrigerator door. You’ll reduce the amount of time the door remains open.
• When dust builds up on refrigerator’s condenser coils, the motor works harder and uses more electricity. Clean the coils regularly to make sure that air can circulate freely.
• For manual defrost refrigerator, accumulation of ice reduces the cooling power by acting as unwanted insulation. Defrost freezer compartment regularly for a manual defrost refrigerator.

Tips on use of Microwave oven:
• Use Microwave oven. It saves up to 50 per cent on your cooking energy costs for a regular oven, especially for small quantities of food.
• Microwaves cook food from the outside edge toward the centre of the dish, so if you’re cooking more than one item, place larger and thicker items on the outside.

Tips on use of Electric kettle:
• Use an electric kettle to heat water. It’s more efficient than an electric cook top element.
• When buying a new electric kettle, choose one with automatic shut-off button and heat-resistant handle.
• It takes more energy to heat a dirty kettle. Regularly clean your electric kettle by combining boiling water and vinegar to remove mineral deposits.

Tips on use of Water Heater or geyser:
• By reducing the temperature setting of water heater from 600oC to 500oC, one could save 18 per cent of the energy used at the higher setting.
• To help reduce heat loss, insulate hot water pipes, especially where they run through unheated areas. Never insulate plastic pipes.

Tips on use of Computer:
• Turn off your home/office equipment when not in use. A computer that runs 24 hours a day, for instance, uses - more power than an energy-efficient refrigerator.
• If your computer must be left on, turn off the monitor; this device alone uses more than half the system’s energy.
• Set computers, monitors, and copiers to sleep-mode when not in use to cut energy costs by approximately 40 per cent.
• Battery chargers, such as those for laptops, cell phones and digital cameras, draw power whenever they are plugged in and are very inefficient. Pull the plug and save.
• Screen savers save computer screens, not energy.
• Shut down your computer when you have finished work. Start-ups and shutdowns do not use any extra energy, nor are they hard on your computer components.

Should energy conservation be forced on people?
Till date, energy conservation has not been forced upon the people. Whenever power cuts are imposed, it automatically gets forced (not enforced). And when a state government is forced to raise power tariff, again energy conservation is somewhat forced upon the people. Rise in power tariff in a northern state a couple of years back forced many people to minimise use of ACs and other electric appliances.
Keeping in view the asymptomatic rise in power consumption, soon we shall be left with no alternative but to force people for energy conservation. Before we do that, a better option shall be to entice people for energy conservation.
How can we entice people for energy conservation? The idea looks fascinating and can practically be put to practice. At least, it can be tried in a locality or a city on experimental basis. What we should do is to declare 100 free units of power per month for every consumer. However this free power has to be conditional. If a consumer consumes more than 100 units then all units are to be charged at full tariff. Presently, many states are running a scheme of applying lesser unit rate for initial units and higher tariff for further units. It may be abolished and substituted by the new scheme. It will certainly entice people to conserve energy.
Keeping in view the load applied, we may fix different ‘free unit slabs’ for different sectors. Those with single phase supply and up to 5 KW load may be given 100 free units and those with three phase supply and up to 10 KW load may attract 150 free units and so on. The scheme will definitely help in energy conservation without loss of revenue despite provision of availability of free units.

Role of building byelaws
The building byelaws need to be revised to make the buildings energy efficient. If energy efficiency is kept in mind during design and construction of buildings, large commercial houses and complexes can save a lot of energy. There are several ways through which a building can be made energy efficient. The future in fact belongs to energy efficient buildings only.

Green building concept should be ushered in on a large scale. In fact, it should be declared mandatory for every commercial, institutional and industrial building to get itself certified as a Green Building. Incentives should be declared for buildings that achieve Platinum or Gold status. A few years later, when the concept is well known, it should be declared mandatory for residential units also.

And to enforce energy conservation, it should be tried to include power saving measures as a part of building byelaws also. While checking a building whether complying to the byelaws prevalent in the area or not, it should also be checked that all electric appliances like air conditioners, water heaters, geysers, fans, tubes and bulbs are energy efficient. The consumers may be bound to get certified all movable appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, computers and washing machines too as energy efficient.

BEE holds the key:
Bureau of Energy Efficie-ncy, Government of India, is making concrete efforts to usher energy efficiency in the power production and consumption sectors in India. Recently, this agency has brought out Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which is a highly useful document and needs
to be put to real practice. After labeling various electric appliances with star ratings, BEE is now contemplating to label even the CFLs with stars. CFLs are attracting maximum attention in India. Almost every power supplying utility has launched strong campaigns for use of CFLs. Therefore, labeling of CFLs with star ratings is a welcome move.

CFL star ratings
CFLs shall be rated by the BEE on the basis of brightness. During the current year, there has been a
35 per cent increase in the sale of CFLs. During 2009, BEE has selected certain areas in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh to distribute 6.5 lakh CFLs there. Such campaigns will help in creating awareness and complete switching over from the presently used incandescent lamps to CFLs thus saving energy in a big way. Under the rating system being introduced by BEE, the brightest CFL will get five star rating and the dimmest CFL will get single star. Consumers will get the simplest and easiest bench mark for brightness check as the CFLs produced by the manufacturers have different wattages, star ratings for each wattage will be separate. Not only this, each batch of CFLs produced by the manufacturers need to be separately star-rated. Like other appliances, BEE should make star ratings more stringent with every passing year. A CFL given five star rating in 2009 may get 4 stars in 2010 and so on. This will force the manufacturers to adopt future technologies.

Energy savings
BEE has ambitious plans in the offing. It plans to cover 400 million houses in next five years under its ‘Bachat Lamp Yojana’ under which incandescent lamps are proposed to be replaced by CFLs. As per BEE estimates, replacement of 400 million bulbs by CFLs will bring savings worth Rs 14000 crore! This amount is sufficient to set up a 3000 MW thermal power station. News of complete switching over to CFLs has started coming up. Sirsa in Haryana is the first district in making complete switchover to CFLs. In Punjab too, a strong campaign for using CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) and saving energy was launched in July, 2008. It was decided that every household shall have to use at least 5 CFLs or face penalty. All agricultural consumers were supposed to install only CFLs in their tube well rooms. Punjab State Electricity Board passed these instructions to the domestic and agricultural consumers. Slowly, the results begun to show and by end 2008, 36 villages in Punjab became CFL villages. Plans have now been chalked out to tap the villages at Panchayat level. Each distribution division has been asked by the power utility to select one village to make it cent percent CFL village. CFLs should be checked to be having high power factor so that much energy is not lost in distribution.

Incentives
Incentive schemes need to be launched by the CFL producing companies where a discount can be offered on purchase of more than one CFL at a time. Similarly, discounts can be offered under exchange schemes where customers may bring old lamps from their houses and exchange the same with new CFLs at discount. This is necessary to avoid pollution caused by the mercury contained in fused CFLs. When thrown in the garbage bin by the people, these get broken and the mercury may travel into the soil and water, proving harmful for the human beings and the environment. CFLs collected by the companies can be passed on to those specialising in extracting mercury from them and reutilise it. In addition to these steps, the government may help in reduction of prices of CFLs by providing tax incentives to the CFL producers. Such an approach may usher in an era of energy conservation in India.

The demand for power is rising in geometrical progression and is always outstripping the supply.

Keeping in view the asymptomatic rise in power consumption, soon we shall be left with no alternative but to force people for energy conservation.

BEE has ambitious plans in the offing. It plans to cover 400 million houses in next five years under its ‘Bachat Lamp Yojana’ under which incandescent lamps are proposed to be replaced by CFLs.


 

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