- Nationally, hospitals spend more than $5 billion on energy costs.
- Chillers and waters heaters are good candidates for energy-saving upgrades.
- Energy management systems can help hospitals control building systems.
Source: www. sxc.hu
Changing dynamics in the healthcare industry, including tighter budgets and increased competitiveness, have forced many healthcare facilities to cut operating costs while continuing to deliver top-quality care. Since hospitals typically operate 24-hours a day, energy costs present a significant opportunity for savings. Energy use makes up a large part of the hospital budget. Overall, in-patient care facilities spend more than $5 billion each year on energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Hospitals have the second largest energy consumption when it comes to energy use per square foot among commercial buildings.
Hospital systems such as chillers and water heaters are good candidates for energy upgrades. Energy management systems can be used to control space conditioning, ventilation, pumps, and lighting, to maintain comfort and performance, while optimizing energy savings.
Chillers are used in healthcare facilities for space cooling, refrigeration, and other cooling processes. They differ from standard air conditioners in that they use water instead of air as the primary cooling medium. When considering chiller improvements, you must take into account the price of purchase and operating expenses. Facilities with chillers that are 10 or more years old could realize significant energy savings through retrofitting or replacement. Possible retrofits include new controls, trimming impellers, and replacing older R-12 refrigerant.
A standard efficiency chiller that operates more than 4,000 hours per year should be replaced with an energy-efficient model. According to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Program (FEMP), replacing a 300-ton standard chiller that operates at 4,000 hours per year with an energy-efficient model can save over $18,000 in energy costs annually and achieve a simple payback in less than two years. All chillers over 20 years old are good candidates for replacement, because they are nearing the end of their useful life and are substantially less efficient than newer models.
Water heating is the single largest user of energy in healthcare facilities. Hospitals typically use traditional electric or gas water heaters. Newer, more energy-efficient technologies combined with water conservation measures could significantly lower water-heating energy costs.
- Heat Pump Water Heaters. A heat pump water heater (HPWH) is a very effective and efficient technology for providing hot water to healthcare facilities. The system uses a heat pump to transfer heat from a source, such as outside or building air, to water. A HPWH is two to three times more efficient than conventional water heaters. Institutions that use large amounts of hot water, such as hospitals, can benefit the most from the efficiency of HPWHs.
- Solar Water Heating. High temperature solar water heaters provide energy-efficient hot water for large institutional buildings, such as hospitals. Solar systems are usually combined with conventional back-up systems, but they provide 40% to 80% of the overall water-heating needs for commercial and institutional facilities.
- Demand or Tankless Water Heaters. Tankless water heaters are installed on the water line near the point of use and only heat water when needed—on demand. Tankless water heating can save energy in showers, restrooms, patient rooms, laboratories, or anywhere there is a limited demand for hot water. Larger water use applications, such as laundry facilities, should be heated through more conventional means.
- Water Conservation. Water conservation methods involve installing low-flow fixtures, including faucets, shower heads, toilets, and kitchen sinks. Low-flow kitchen sinks flow at a rate of 0.9 gallons of water per minute less than traditional sinks.
Energy Management Systems
Automatic building control systems help to save energy by ensuring that equipment operates at full capacity when needed and powers down or turns off when not needed. Control systems can range from simple occupancy sensors or programmable thermostats to comprehensive programs that manage the entire facility.
An energy management system (EMS) typically includes a central control network that communicates with a system of sensors and controls. Control of heating and cooling systems and lighting are the most common uses for EMS in healthcare facilities. They are also used for controlling air handlers, boilers, pumps, and ventilation fans. The overall goal is to allow facility managers to minimize energy costs, while maintaining occupant comfort and building system performance.
Additional Energy-Saving Opportunities
- Lighting. Replace all conventional incandescents or older T12 fluorescent bulbs with newer, more efficient T8 lamps and electronic ballasts. Studies show that you can cut lighting energy costs up to 35%. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) can also save energy; these light fixtures use 50% to 90% less electricity than a standard light bulb or compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL).
- Ventilation. Use variable speed drives on equipment in ventilation systems. These can be programmed to turn on for specific peak periods or slow down/shut off during slow periods, or when the system is not needed.
- Computers. Computers that are used intermittently in offices, patient rooms, and laboratories should be equipped with sleep mode settings. A typical computer monitor draws more than 100 watts of energy alone. Sensors are available to turn off computers, copiers, and printers when not in use. Upgrading to ENERGY STAR computers or switching from desktop computers to laptops can also save energy.
- Combined Heat and Power (CHP). CHP systems recover heat that is otherwise lost from power generation and recycle it for building heating and cooling. Healthcare facilities have a number of operations, including medical waste incineration, laundry facilities, cooking operations, and sterilization equipment, that would be particularly applicable to heat-recovery systems.
Measure Your Energy
Energy Star's Portfolio Manager, an online energy measurement and tracking tool, has been updated for the healthcare industry and includes data inputs for the number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and personnel, as well as adjustments to weather normalization to reflect the amount of energy used to cool the building.