Energy

UIC Energy Dashboard coming soon!

The Smart Grid, as explained by UIC Students

Watch UIC Students explain the Smart Grid in this fun 2 minute video.

Smart grid means “computerizing” the electric utility grid. It includes adding two-way digital communication technology to devices associated with the grid.  The two-way communication adds a component that allows electricity consumers to keep track of their usage. You can now log onto a computer and see how much and when energy is being used in order to better manage energy consumption and potentially save money.

Smart meters track the energy usage at UIC. As opposed to the old mechanical meters, the new smart meters have a digital reader that makes it easier for data to be collected and for you to understand your energy use. Prior to the smart meter installation, workers went around and made an estimate on the meter’s reading and the consumer was charged based on that estimate.  At the end of the year, based on how accurate that reading was, the customer either received a refund for being overcharged or they were required to pay the difference of what the meter reader didn’t catch.  Now, with new smart meter technology the usage is sent directly to the utility companies, like ComEd, once a day with a wireless radio. This means customers are getting charged the correct amount and workers don’t need to go around reading meters. However, if workers ever need to go check meters in person the digital meter makes it clearer to read.  This long overdue update to the system has many benefits for consumers including finding opportunities to easily cut back on our energy consumption in ways that lower our carbon footprint and save money.

To see the Smart Meter deployment schedule in Illinois, check out this map!

Did you know: It costs electricity producers more to generate energy at different times of day.  The most expensive time is usually between 4 and 8pm.  With a real time price plan consumers who have smart meters can take advantage of lower cost energy by adjusting their habits such as waiting until later in the day or early in the morning to run the dish washer or washing machine/dryer (all high energy appliances).

Check it out on the Dashboard. (coming soon!)

How is UIC saving energy?

  1. UIC is reducing energy consumption and cost by eliminating waste and increasing energy efficiency for buildings, electrical equipment, campus transportation vehicles, water use, and promoting the construction of green buildings.
  2. UIC is measuring energy consumption at the building level where practical for all energy systems to track improvements and develop energy conservation procedures. To the extent possible, electronic metering systems are utilized to provide real-time information and reduce human error. These energy metering devices in campus buildings can track consumption, gauge where opportunities for conservation of energy exists, and assess if energy savings are being realized.
  3. UIC is reducing reliance on fossil fuels by conserving energy and developing and using alternative, renewable energy power sources, such as geothermal, solar energy and wind.
  4. UIC is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation, waste, grounds operations, and transportation.

These goals are drawn from the University of Illinois Energy Policy. Read more about UIC’s Energy Policy Goals, and Energy Initiatives & Projects.

How Can You Save Energy?

If you’re on campus:

  1. Turn off printers, monitors, projectors, copy machines, and other office equipment when not in use for extended periods and at the end of the workday. Computer equipment energy conservation entails multiple considerations and is discussed in greater detail in http://accc.uic.edu/policy/conservation
  2. Keep laptops and smart phones in power saver mode when in use.
    • For Windows laptops right click on the battery icon in the taskbar, select ‘Power Options’, and then select ‘Power saver’ in the additional plans section.
    • For Mac laptops you’ll need to modify the settings manually. Click here for a complete guide.
  3. Lower thermostat settings in the winter, raise it in the summer
  4. Use revolving doors and stairs when possible.
  5. Turn off lights in any space at UIC where people are not present.
  6. plug electronic devices (such as TVs and lamps) to a surge protector/outlet strip and switch strip off anytime devices are not in use to reduce phantom power usage.

If you’re off campus:

  1. Walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation to get around.
  2. Enroll in energy saving programs to get the full benefit from Smart Grid.Learn more at ComEd .
    • Peak Time Rebate
      • No risk/ high rewards
      • Earn bill credit if you do electricity intensive tasks like laundry during “off-peak” times throughout the day
      • No penalty for not changing usage habits!
    • Real-Time Pricing
      • Some risk/ high rewards
      • Charges you electricity rates that change hourly
      • You pay lower rates when there is lower demand
    • Fixed Price Rate
      • Low risk
      • Pay a set price for electricity
      • Rates are subject to change by season but are regulated and reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)
  3. Replace light bulbs with more energy efficient, longer lasting LED bulbs. Read ComEd’s light bulb guide to know more.
  4. Get a Smart Thermostat so you can get a rebate up to $120; program your thermostat through your phone, tablet, or computer; and so you can adopt the thermostat settings to your behavior and generate energy savings automatically. Learn more about smart thermostats at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
  5. Get a Smart Meter at home (read more below).

Smart Meters

Benefits

  • Two-way technology allows the consumer to stay up to date on their energy usage
  • Consumers are able to see the rate at which they are being charged
  • Consumers can see times of day they use the most energy
  • Grid system is more efficient and less likely to have power outages
  • In the event of a power outage, electricity is rerouted to supply power to area in need until the problem is fixed
  • There are money saving programs to participate in
  • The grid operates with bank-like security
  • Uses a combination of electricity sources such as wind and solar
  • Integrates electric vehicles onto the grid

Concerns

Some people have concerns about the wireless radio because of radio frequency emissions. The emissions released from the meter are only 0.1 microwatts per cm2. This is a considerably small amount especially considering that cellphones release 30-10,000 microwatts per cm2, and microwaves release 5,000 microwatts per cm2. See more at the Citizen’s Utility Board website.

Learn more about the Myths vs. Facts of the Smart Meter.

Learn more about Smart Meters and the Smart Grid at www.smartgrid.gov

 

The Importance of Lighting

Discover our Smart Grid Blog and the importance of lighting!