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Managing Energy Costs in Hospitals

Managing Energy Costs in Hospitals

Hospitals

Each day, hospitals serve thousands of employees, patients, and visitors while being open 24/7. This naturally results in high energy use, making hospitals excellent targets for energy-efficiency measures. An average US hospital uses 31.0 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 103,600 Btu of natural gas per square foot annually. In a typical hospital, lighting, space heating, and water heating represent about 65 percent of total energy use (Figure 1), making those systems the best targets for energy savings. By increasing energy efficiency, hospitals can improve the bottom line, freeing up funds to invest in new technologies and improve patient care.

Average energy use data

Figure 1: Hospital energy consumption by end use
For in-patient care facilities, cooling, ventilation, and lighting are major electricity end uses. Heating interior spaces and cooking are the primary uses for natural gas.
Pie chart showing electricity end uses: Miscellaneous, 24%; Cooling, 23%; Ventilation, 18%; Lighting, 16%; Computer, 9%; Refrigeration, 5%; and Office, 5%.
Pie chart showing natural gas end use in hospital facilities: heating, 59%; water heating, 28%; and cooking, 13%.
Top technology uses

To better manage your building’s energy costs, it helps to understand how you are charged for those costs. Most utilities charge commercial buildings for natural gas based on the amount of energy delivered. Electricity, on the other hand, can be charged based on two measures: consumption and demand (Figure 2). The consumption component of your bill is based on the amount of electricity, in kWh, that the building consumes during a month. The demand component is the peak demand, in kilowatts (kW), occurring within the month or, for some utilities, during the previous 12 months. Demand charges can range from a few dollars per kW-month to upwards of $20 per kW-month. Because it can be a considerable percentage of your bill, you should take care to reduce peak demand whenever possible. As you consider the following energy cost-management recommendations, keep in mind how each one will affect both your consumption and demand.

Figure 2: Hypothetical daily load shape for hospitals
A review of hourly energy consumption data shows that cooling and lighting present the largest opportunities for reducing peak demand charges in healthcare facilities.
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