Category: Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency And Roof Design

As a roofing contractor in the state of Wisconsin, I continually field requests for light colored (reflective) roofing for the purpose of energy efficiency. A white or light colored roof will reflect sunlight, keep the building cooler, and reduce energy consumptionCorrect?

It depends on where you live and the insulation value of the building.

Most roofing material comes in a variety of colors. EPDM (rubber) membrane, for instance, is a very common low slope roofing material that comes in black or white. In the case of EPDM, the white color is much more expensive. Many consumers will justify spending more on white instead of black EPDM since they believe that there will be energy savings. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of different colors from light to dark. Some shingle manufacturers, such as GAF, have marketed Cool Series asphalt shingles that are designed to be more reflective of sunlight.

Significant studies have been conducted to study the effect of roof color on energy consumption. Heat transfer will occur from the roof into the interior of the building if there is a low level of insulation and resulting low R-Value (thermal resistance). As R-value and thermal resistance increases with better insulation systems, the type and color of roofing material becomes less and less important. In general, an R-value of 30 or more negates any energy efficiency gains from white or light colored roofing material in hot climates. It stands to reason the most effective way to decrease a buildings energy consumption is to increase insulation levels.

There are situations in which the building structure itself cannot be insulated more effectively and a low R-value cannot be avoided. What color of roofing material would be best in this situation? It depends on where you live and the climate. Do you have more heating degree days or cooling degree days? Here in Wisconsin, we definitely have more heating degree days. Therefore, a dark colored roof will help heat interior building spaces and decrease energy consumption over time. In colder climates, dark colored roofs are the most energy efficient. The opposite is true for hot climates. It would be well worth the extra investment in purchasing white roofing material in Southern Florida. Central regions of the United States are considered color-neutral. In these areas, studies have shown that energy efficiency is not impacted by roof color.

With the increase in roofing material choices, it has become increasingly important that roof designers, contractors, and facilities managers consider the right roofing material for the right situation. Reflective roofing has become a knee-jerk reaction for some designers and contractors who do not take climate zones or insulation levels into consideration. Focus should remain on insulation systems and improving insulation value when optimizing energy efficiency. Advances in insulation technology have created opportunities to increase insulation value in almost any circumstance. Spray-on foam insulation and plywood manufactured with imbedded rigid foam insulation have become popular and effective systems to increase R-value in tight spaces.

Every building and every roof system is different. Roof design for energy efficiency must take into consideration climate zone and insulation value. With sufficient insulation, roof color becomes insignificant in the energy efficiency equation.

Selecting The Right Windows For Energy Efficiency

Selecting The Right Windows for Energy Efficiency

New window technologies have increased energy benefits and comfort, and have provided more practical options for consumers. This selection guide will help homeowners, architects, and builders take advantage of the expanding window market. The guide contains three
sections: an explanation of energy-related window characteristics, a discussion of window energy performance ratings, and a convenient checklist for window selection.

Selecting the right window for a specific home invariably requires tradeoffs between different
energy performance features, and with other non-energy issues. An understanding of some basic energy concepts is therefore essential to choosing appropriate windows and skylights. As illustrated on the following page, three major types of energy flow occur through windows:

(1) non-solar heat losses and gains in the form of conduction, convection, and radiation;
(2) solar heat gains in the form of radiation; and
(3) airflow, both intentional (ventilation) and unintentional (infiltration).

Insulating Value

The non-solar heat flow through a window is a result of the temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors. Windows lose heat to the outside during the heating season and
gain heat from the outside during the cooling season, adding to the energy needs in a home. The effects of nonsolar heat flow are generally greater on heating needs than on cooling
needs because indoor-outdoor temperature differences are greater during the heating season than during the cooling season in most regions of the United States. For any window
product, the greater the temperature difference from inside to out, the greater the rate of heat flow.

A U-factor is a measure of the rate of non-solar heat flow through a window or skylight. (An R-value is a measure of the resistance of a window or skylight to heat flow and is the reciprocal of a U-factor.) Lower U-factors (or higher R values), thus indicate reduced heat flow. U-factors
allow consumers to compare the insulating properties of different windows
and skylights.

The insulating value of a singlepane window is due mainly to the thin films of still air on the interior and moving air on the exterior glazing surfaces. The glazing itself doesnt offer
much resistance to heat flow. Additional panes markedly reduce the U-factor by creating still air spaces, which increase insulating value.

In addition to conventional double-pane windows, many manufacturers offer windows
that incorporate relatively new tech- nologies aimed at decreasing U-factors.
These technologies include low-emittance (low-E) coatings and gas fills. A low-E coating is a microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide coating deposited on a glazing surface.

The coating may be applied to one or more of the glazing surfaces facing an
air space in a multiple-pane window, or to a thin plastic film inserted between panes. The coating limits radiative heat flow between panes by reflecting heat back into the home during cold weather and back to the outdoors during warm weather. This effect increases the insulating value of the window. Most window manufacturers now offer windows and skylights
with low-E coatings.

The spaces between windowpanes can be filled with gases that insulate better
than air. Argon, krypton, sulfur hexafluoride, and carbon dioxide are among the gases used for this purpose. Gas fills add only a few dollars to the prices of most windows and skylights. They are most effective when used in conjunction with low-E coatings. For these reasons, some manufacturers have made gas fills standard in their low-E windows and skylights.
The insulating value of an entire window can be very different from that of the glazing alone. The whole-window U-factor includes the effects of the glazing, the frame, and, if present, the insulating glass spacer. (The spacer is the component in a window that separates glazing panes. It often reduces the insulating value at the glazing edges.)
Since a single-pane window with a metal frame has about the same overall Ufactor as a single glass pane alone, frame and glazing edge effects were not of great concern before multiple-pane, low-E, and gas-filled windows and skylights were widely used. With the recent expansion of thermally improved glazing options offered by manufacturers, frame and spacer properties now can have a more pronounced influence on the U-factors of windows and skylights.

As a result, frame and spacer options have also multiplied as manufacturers offer improved designs. Window frames can be made of aluminum, steel, wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or
composites of these materials. Wood, fiberglass, and vinyl frames are better insulators than metal. Some aluminum frames are designed with internal thermal breaks, non-metal components that reduce heat flow through the frame.

These thermally broken aluminum frames can resist heat flow considerably better than aluminum frames without thermal breaks. Composite frames may use two or more materials (e.g. aluminum-clad wood, vinyl-clad wood) to optimize their design and performance, and typically have insulating values intermediate between those of the materials comprising them. Frame geometry, as well as material type, also strongly influences thermal performance properties.

Spacers can be made of aluminum, steel, fiberglass, foam, or combinations of
these materials. Spacer thermal perfor- mance is as much a function of geometry as of composition. For example, some well-designed metal spacers insulate almost as well as foam.

The table on page 3 shows representative U-factors for window glazing, frame, and spacer combinations under winter design conditions. Due to their orientation and their greater projected surface areas, domed and other shaped tilted and horizontal skylights have significantly higher U-factors than do vertical windows of similar materials and opening sizes.

Nashville’s Best Vinyl Replacement Windows. Energy Efficiency

A new national survey notes an interesting return to aesthetics being more important than energy efficiency in the consumers decision making process with regards to vinyl replacement windows. I believe there are two reasons for the shift. First, there may be some level of expectation that most products provide enhanced levels of energy efficiency because of the governments stimulus tax credit. Many manufacturers, because of the stringency of the requirements, scampered to find products that qualified. The other reason for the change is that the higher end consumer, who previously considered vinyl a lesser quality product and would only look at high cost wood and clad windows, now, because of the economic realities, are ready to look at vinyl as a lower cost, more energy efficient, alternative. Aesthetics have always been a driving force in that customers decision-making process.

Vinyl windows have been around for over thirty years, realizing more and more acceptance from consumers for various reasons. Many focus group studies have been undertaken by various manufacturers and one of the most interesting things that has been learned is that the one main thing that consumers that have otherwise loved their vinyl windows didnt like was the fact that they had to give up glass viewing area. Unfortunately, most manufacturers dont talk about that issue with the customer because of structural decisions that have required their vinyl extrusions to be big and boxy, leaving the customer to notice it only AFTER their windows are installed and too late to make a change. One of the reasons that so many products have big, bulky extrusions has to do with the increased necessity of energy efficient mainframes to meet Energy Star guidelines. Some manufacturers have made the investment in products that, in essence, allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
One of the interesting things about vinyl is that it shares a couple of properties of steel. One of the properties is that every 90 bend in vinyl increases its structural integrity. Many of the bulky, boxy mainframes available use many 90 bends for structural strength, but this increases the overall bulk of the product. The aesthetics conscious consumer is looking for a product that combines looks structure and energy efficiency.

One rarely discussed difference in products is the variations in the white color. Most customers that have white trim have painters white. Many manufacturers, including some that have some of the lowest advertised prices, still use the original white vinyl color, which has a blue or black tint to it. Again, this typically is not discussed at the time of purchase and is only discovered after the products are installed, too late to make a change. Make sure the home improvement consultant matches their white to your white.

How To Guide To Improving Air Quality And Energy Efficiency In Your Home

It is an easy task to improve the indoor air quality of your home while improving its energy efficiency at the same time. Knowing some basic steps is all you need to get started.

Improve Air Quality and Energy Efficiency by Eliminating Drafts

The first order of business is to eliminate as many drafts as possible. This will limit the quantity of airborne allergens that can enter your home from outside. The prevention of drafts will both improve the quality of the air inside your home and will also increase the energy efficiency of your air conditioning/heating system. Much of your high energy costs is due to loss of heat in the winter and in the summer, the loss of air conditioning,generates higher energy bills and it wastes your money and our natural resources.

Reducing drafts helps reduce the outside irritants and toxic particles that can be found suspended in outdoor air and have less chance of getting into your home.

Air Circulation Improves Improve Air Quality and Energy Efficiency

Circulating the air inside becomes very important as it allows the air to move around and the rooms will not become stuffy, stale and full of odors. Using an air conditioner to control the humidity in your home will also reduce or eliminate humidity and reduce the need for a dehumidifier which is very expensive to operate.

Create a Save Haven in Your Home

Your ability to control your indoor air quality and energy efficiency will allow you to create a safe haven in your home, This will help protected from airborne microbes such as small pox, anthrax, botulism, toxic gas, and radio active particle that can be released by terrorists or by accident.

Improve Air Quality and Energy Efficiency by Leakage Testing

A simple air leakage test is your first step you need to do to improve your indoor air quality and energy efficiency. All that is needed is a fan set up near an outer doorway. After placing the fan in the outer doorway, you will observe that eh amount of air that flows through the fan is equal to the air that is flowing through any leaks in the outer shell of the building.

If you use white smoke while you perform the leakage test, you will see openings in windows or door that are allowing your air conditioning and heating to escape or toxins to enter. Mold spores, dust, insects and pollen enter the home through these cracks.

Most people are aware of the fact that older homes are often drafty due to multiple leaks, but believe it or not, newly constructed homes can also have air leaks. It is estimated that new homes can have upwards of 300 square inches of air openings in the outer shell. If you have a ducted air circulation system in your home, these openings can create a significant level of pressure inside the home that will drive air through these openings. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that since you have a new home, you don’t have any leakage problems.

Conclusion

One final caveat. Before you go rushing out to seal up your home in an effort to improve its air quality and energy efficiency, you must make a committment to reduce the amount of chemicalproducts that you use. More and more studies are showing that the air quality within our homes is often worse than the air we breathe outside. Carpeting that gives off toxic fumes, cleaning products, personal care products and electronic equipment are only a few of the products that we use indoors that is contributing to “sick house syndrome”. So before you tackle the job of improving your air quality and energy efficiency, use more natural products in your home to keep you and your family safe.

Londons Dirtiest Buildings

An energy survey that carried out recently on several public buildings in and around London shows that Buckingham Palace is the least energy efficient of them all. The palace which was built in 1820 and was first ever occupied by Queen Victoria received the worst possible green score of 0 out of 10 when a team of energy surveyors carried out a survey of the palace following Januarys big freeze.

The surveyors was carried out by using thermal image testing to find out where the building was leaking energy. However, despite these tests being carried out in total darkness, the palace still lit up due to the amount of heat that was escaping from the building. The major culprits for this big loss of energy were the windows, the roof and even cracks in the wall. According to the surveying team, it appears that Buckingham Palace is better at heating the air outside than inside.

Furthermore, the latest Royal Household Financial Report that was carried out in 2008 showed that 5.9 million were spent on running Buckingham Palace, of which 2.2 million were spent on utility bills. However, according to the energy saving expert Ivan Lucas, the construction of Buckingham Palace does not lend itself to easily turning it into an eco-home.

However, there a few quick fixes that can be carried out in order to help Buckingham Palace save energy. These include replacing the single pane windows by brand new double glazing windows, because despite the thick curtains, a lot of

heat is still escaping the building.
Other repairs that can be carried to improve Buckingham Palaces energy efficiency include installing insulation panels to the outside as well as the inside of the property in order to minimize heat loss.

Carrying out these types of repairs will contribute to relieving the building industry that was very hardly hit by the recession. It would enable many companies to save jobs and train their staff in using energy saving materials.

According to energy saving experts, Buckingham Palace was not the only offender. Many other official or public buildings such as the MPs office building of Portcullis House in London and MI6 header quarters in Vauxhall were also part of the main offenders. Whats more, this happened despite the government recently launching a multimillion scheme that would lead to British households slashing their energy emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

In the light of the results of the surveys that were carried on many public buildings throughout, it transpires that the government is not setting a good example when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, and this despite multi-million schemes that aim at saving more energy.

Taking The whole House Approach To Home Energy Efficiency

In this industry, there are times when energy efficiency experts come across some fairly prodigious claims about the potential effectiveness of the products they provide to homeowners. While these assertions are great for selling products, they don’t always create a realistic picture of the ultimate benefit to the homeowner.

Instead of claiming the added efficiency that a single product will offer, it’s much more effective to create a profile of your entire house’s energy system – one that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your home’s energy use. With this approach, we can take a more realistic look at which improvements will result in the most impactful improvement of your home.

Understanding “Whole House” Energy Efficiency

Be skeptical of any company that provides you a single product but quantifies its potential energy savings for your home. These “miracle cure” solutions are not always as effective as they seem!

For example, let’s say that a company claims that replacing your windows and exterior doors with ENERGY STAR approved windows and doors can save you up to 25% on your annual heating and cooling bills. Unfortunately, this is only likely in some cases.

Let’s look at these two examples…

House A is an old, drafty colonial house that is poorly updated by its owners. However, the furnace is fairly modern, and operates at about 85% of the efficiency of a new, modern system. Unfortunately, the air ducts that channel the heat from the furnace have several air leaks, and the furnace is being stored in a cold, uninsulated basement. The attic also has a mere 4″ layer of old fiberglass insulation installed. While the windows are not ENERGY STAR approved, they do have double-paned glass.

House B is a 1970s home, whose owners take the time to update it when possible. In this case, the furnace is very outdated, and while it still works, it operates at about half the efficiency of a new, modern system. The owners service their system frequently, and have already sealed all holes in the air ducts. Their basement is finished and insulated, and the attic is properly sealed and insulated with new fiberglass insulation. They have single-paned windows installed that are not ENERGY STAR approved.

Which House Would Benefit Most From Energy Efficient Windows?

In this case, we can see that the owners of House A are paying much more for their heat than the owners of house B. While replacing these old windows would increase the energy efficiency, there are many more cost-effective ways to reduce their utility bills.

For example, instead of spending $10,000 or more on a window upgrade, the owners of House A may want to consider using the same money on a combination of air sealing the home to eliminate the drafts, insulating the basement, repairing the air ducts, or sealing and insulating the attic.

In the case of House B, however, we can see that the basement and attic are insulated, and the home has already been air sealed. Because the furnace is outdated, heating comes at a premium. In this case, it can be very cost-effective to keep as much heat inside the house as possible. So replacement windows are a pretty good idea.

But even in this case, the savings will take many years to balance out the cost of the windows. In the end, much of the value of the upgrade will be appreciated through the increased comfort, beauty, and value of the home.

Professional Energy Efficiency Evaluation In Connecticut & New York

Before deciding on a major energy efficiency upgrade for your home, it’s worth the effort to hire a professional to inspect your problem and make recommendations on the most effective upgrades for your home.

Each house will have its own unique energy-using system; professional and customized energy efficient upgrades are well worth the investment in energy savings and comfort for your home.

Energy Efficiency And Solar Power Systems Help San Diego Homeowners Cut Energy Costs

When it comes to balancing comfort and savings, industry experts recommend combining cost-effective energy efficiency measures with smaller solar power systems. The powerful benefit of solar power systems to create electricity added to reducing energy loss not only saves money, but also costs San Diego homeowners far less in the long run.

Electricity bills have skyrocketed lately everywhere, and San Diego is no exception to the trend. The average electricity consumption rate for a single family detached home in San Diego County is about 675 kWh per month. In June of 1999, that meant an electric bill of $71 but now, thanks to rising costs, that same consumption will result in an electric bill of $150.

For many San Diego homeowners, solar power systems have provided at least some relief from astronomical electricity costs. While the systems require an upfront investment, most solar panels come with a substantial warranty and will produce electricity for up to 40 years at practically no operating cost. The savings on electric bills from a solar power system will cover the investment in 6-8 years for most homeowners, leaving them with free electricity for another 20-30 years.

For example, a homeowner with a $150 average electricity bill today can either buy a solar power system for $17,500 after state and federal incentives or pay $150,000 over the next 30 years for the same amount of electricity. Over the last five years, more than 8,000 homeowners in San Diego have installed solar power systems. New financing options, such as third-party Power Purchasing agreements, allow homeowners to install solar power systems with little or no money down.

While solar power systems yield moderate savings for San Diego homeowners, a combination of solar power and energy efficiency can lead to even better results. By focusing on basic adjustments like insulation, duct sealing and LED bulbs, consumers can drastically cut the amount of energy wasted on heating, cooling and lighting. All it takes is a custom energy audit to figure out the right efficiency improvements. San Diego homeowners can invest 10-40% less than what is needed to install an average solar power system into energy efficiency measures and smaller-scale solar installations and reap the benefits of bigger financial savings and better energy efficiency for many years to come.

Each home uses energy differently and there are no generic solutions that are cost effective for everyone. But with the help of an expert energy auditor, homeowners can identify the custom solution that combines the right energy efficiency measures and solar power system size.

Custom Home Builders Vaincrease Energy Efficiency Of My Home

Custom Home Builders VA:What can I do to increase the energy efficiency of my current home?

by: www.CustomHomeBuildersVA.com

Most advisers agree that energy prices are going to continue to go up. If you look at the possibility of further devaluation of the dollar combined with the possibility of draconian energy legislation, the opportunity of extraordinary escalation of energy prices exists.

Many Americans are living in homes larger than they need. Homes that were built for size rather than quality.

In my opinion, getting prepared for high energy costs is a critical component of any preparedness strategy.

First do all the conventional things to make your home as energy efficient as possible.

Add insulation, upgrade windows and doors (while you are doing this it is an excellent opportunity to upgrade your security), change light bulbs, upgrade appliances, install water heater blankets. If the plumbing pipes have relatively short runs it is very likely that a propane fired tank-less water heater would make sense.

Secondly, consider your heating system. This is an intensive area of energy for many homes.

We recommend wood-fired outdoor boilers where feasible. These units circulate hot water and can be used for many heating applications including home heat, domestic hot water, greenhouse radiant heat and swimming pools, to name a few.

If you have a heat pump, a propane furnace installed with the heat pump is a very good combination. This allows for an energy efficient propane furnace to do the heating when the heat pump is out of its operating range. While there are very efficient and comfortable heat pumps, the back-up heating strips on heat pumps are very energy intensive. Propane is still primarily produced in the United States.

Also, we have had very good experiences with geo-thermal. While it is still electric based, it provides an excellent source of heating in mild climates and is incredibly energy efficient.

We always recommend some alternate options in heating, so there is some source of heat in the event of grid failures. For example, if you have a geo-thermal heating system, install a wood stove as the back-up.
There are a number of structural changes or modifications which could result in much greater energy efficiency. These would include adding a vestibule or windbreak if you have children or go in and out of the house a good bit. You might be able to earth berm part of the north side of your house, or add a solar room to the south side of the home, just to name a few possibilities.

The New Home Communities Of San Antonios Wilshire Homes

If youre looking for new San Antonio homes for sale then you undoubtedly have heard the name Wilshire Homes. Wilshire Homes has become synonymous with quality and value, and has earned a solid reputation when speaking of San Antonio homes for sale.

A good example of Wilshire Homes commitment to the best San Antonio homes for sale is the many awards and accolades this Texas homebuilder has received. Wilshire Homes has been awarded the following accolades:

Energy Star Leadership in Housing Award, Winner 2009

Grand MAX Volume Builder of the Year Winner 2004, 2005, 2006

Best Places to Work in Austin Winner 2004, 2005, 2006

Best Places to Work in San Antonio Winner 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

San Antonio Summit Awards Winner 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

Wilshire Homes has also become one of the builders in terms of green building. When searching for San Antonio homes for sale, consider Wilshire Homes for its commitment to both green and sustainable building. In fact, this San Antonio home builder focuses on creating healthy indoor living environments for the people living in these homes. These goals are accomplished by adopting a wide variety of new construction and development techniques and philosophies all of which emphasize preservation of the environment, water conservation, energy efficiency, and healthy, non-toxic interior living spaces.

Some of the newest Wilshire Homes communities include:

The Estates of Lookout Canyon Creek

Homes priced between the $200,000s and the $260,000s

Conveniently located off Highway 281 North, this gated community features such amenities as: a recreation center and swimming pool; a toddler swimming pool; a picnic area; a sports court; and miles of walking trails.

Bulverde Village

Priced from the $190,000s to the $290,000s

Conveniently located in the Texas Hill County, this Fort Worth home community features a number of outstanding community amenities, including: a recreation center with a swimming pool, a splash pad, covered cabanas and restrooms; a basketball court; a playscape; and miles of walking trails.

Lakeside at Canyon Springs

Priced from the $180,000s to the $260,000s

This Fort Worth home community features a gated entrance and a community pool, complete with a splashpad and a cabana. The entire neighborhood is surrounded by greenbelts, and the convenient location is close to medical facilities, restaurants and shops, just to name a few.

Terra Bella

Terra Bella, which is located near Stone Oak, features a gated entrance, an amenity center, a community swimming pool, and a playscape.

Wilshire Homes allows homeowners to personalize their homes, and each home is designed around each individuals needs and wants. Instead of prepackaging a home like other home builders often do, Wilshire Homes is committed to building custom homes that adhere to the companys core set of values: Honesty, Integrity, Trust and Respect, Teamwork, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Excellence, and Continuous Improvement.

Wilshire Homes is an Austin-based homebuilder and is Central Texas largest, private homebuilder. Wilshire Homes has built homes in 20 communities throughout Austin and San Antonio.

Fastest Growing Data Center Trend In 2013 Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency continues to be a major concern for data centers with raised floor systems. In the past, energy cost was simply a given, on par with the costof hardware and labor. As hardware has become more efficient and automated procedures have taken over labor, the cost of energy has continued to climb and it now represents around 25% of total operating costs for most data centers. In most data centers, one of the biggest uses of energy involves the strategic cooling of equipment in conjunction with the raised floor system.

The typical data center uses nearly twice as much electricity as it needs for actual computing, with the remainder going toward cooling, lighting and systems that maintain the data center. One measure of this ratio of use is PUE, or power usage effectiveness, and a PUE of 1.0 is considered ideal. This means all of the power brought to the data center is used for computing, although this is not exactly an achievable goal.

The price of energy is such a large concern for data centers, they have gone to great lengths to optimize their PUE. The largest operators of data centers, Google and Facebook, have not only worked to make their data centers energy efficient. they have come close to this ideal PUE. Along the way, they have learned some valuable lessons to save energy. Their work has been amazing and shows the possibilities in new construction. However, it challenges the vast majority of older data centers with raised access floor. For data centers built 10 to 40 years ago, all hope is not lost. There are a number of ways to follow this trend without spending a fortune to take advantage of the lessons learned in energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency for Legacy Data Centers
Legacy data centers may use a number of cost-effective techniques to boost the energy efficiency of their facility and improve the performance of their raised floor systems.

Energy Efficient Grommets
One option is sealing existing cutouts in raised floor systems for a fast and effective energy facelift. Energy efficient grommets are an effective way to prevent bypass air from escaping the underfloor to improve the efficiency and cooling capacity of the entire system. According to Uptime Institute, Inc., electricity consumed by a data center’s IT equipment is the largest infrastructure cost, and up to 80% of conditioned air never reaches the air intake of equipment due to unsealed cable openings.

Bypass air creates hot spots, which causes not only inefficiency but increased costs. Sealing cable and hose openings is one of the most cost-effective ways to update an existing raised floor system, and energy efficient grommets will not only increase the cooling capacity of existing units but also reduce the need to buy additional cooling units.

Perforated Raised Floor Tiles
Another option is the strategic installation of perforated raised floor tiles or high velocity grates. A major study conducted by the Uptime Institution of 19 large computer rooms determined that most facilities have problems with hot spots. Many data centers simply throw more AC at the problem, which most often fails. These perforated data center floor tiles must be installed with a plan in mind, however, and not simply because an area feels warm.

When cable openings are sealed, the airflow of perforated floor tiles is increased by 66%. Airflow modeling will allow for the strategic placement and quantity needed of perforated floor tiles or high velocity grates.

Rack System Layout
Finally, it’s possible to improve the cooling and power efficiency of legacy raised floor systems by re-examining the current rack layout. More data centers today use in-row solutions, which maximizes efficiency. Cabinets should be joined in a series of rows resting on the raised floor tiles. The fronts of the racks facing each other become cold aisles. Cold aisles are then positioned around the perimeter of the room, or at the end of hot aisles, and this pushes cold air under the raised floor system and through the cold aisle. Perforated raised floor tiles are then placed only in the cold aisles to concentrate the cool air in front of the racks to make sure adequate air reaches the server intake. As air moves through the servers, it’s heated and dissipated into hot aisles.

Implementing a strategic energy plan can make any data center more efficient, whether new or old.