Commercial Energy Load Management

General Energy Saving Strategies

Energy reduction during key high-usage hours of the year can result in significant energy savings for you. AEP Energy offers several services to help you know when these key hours occur, such as PeakAdvisory℠ and PowerPerks℠ Just as important as knowing when to reduce usage is knowing how to reduce usage, and which methods are most effective for you and your business. Actions that can be taken fall into three general categories:

  • Employee Actions or Behaviors: Individual actions can reduce energy usage
  • Reducing Non-Essential Energy Use: Turn off systems or equipment not needed during an event
  • Load Shifting: Schedule activities to before or after event hours

When deciding upon the best energy reduction actions, consider one or more categories. Depending on your business, certain energy reduction strategies may be more effective or available to you. Below are suggested actions that can help reduce energy usage during an event. This list is not comprehensive, and other opportunities for load reduction might be available for certain businesses. By mixing and matching the right combination of actions, you may reduce your load with minimal disruption to operations and potentially reduce your energy costs.

Targets for Energy Reductions

Space Cooling

Most system peaks (events) happen during the hottest days of the summer. Likely during these days, air conditioning (AC) will be running at full power, making the largest contribution to energy usage during an event. For example, generally AC is sized for 1 ton per 500 square feet. An average AC unit will use nearly 3.5 KW per ton. Since AC is such a large percentage of peak energy use, methods of reducing AC are some of the most effective ways of reducing overall energy use.

  • Pre-cool spaces: Pre-cooling is the practice of over-cooling a space prior to an event, then letting the temperature “float” through the event by raising the temperature on the thermostat or turning off the system entirely. To ensure the space is adequately cooled, pre-cooling is recommended to take place overnight up until the first hour of the event.
  • Turn up the thermostat: While this may be less effective than pre-cooling, turning up the thermostat a few degrees may reduce load. Turning off the thermostat entirely is an option for spaces that are used less, like storage areas, if they have a separate temperature control.
  • Reduce the airflow from outdoors: Spaces warm more quickly if outside air is allowed in, making air conditioners work harder to compensate. Ensure doors and windows are closed. Restrict warm air-flow from rooms such as a computer server room or a kitchen to cooler spaces, to prevent air conditioners from working harder.
  • Reduce direct sunlight: Use blinds or other window treatments to block direct sunlight, preventing spaces from heating up quickly.


Lighting is a significant contributor to electric load, even in the middle of the day. Most businesses have interior lights on during all operating hours, attributing up to 20% of your load during a summer peak. While the most effective way to reduce energy use from lighting is to turn them off, that doesn’t mean working in the dark.

  • Use natural light: During a summer peak, work spaces may be bright enough without artificial lighting.
  • Artificial lighting: Turn on half of the available lights.
  • Reduce the number of rooms where lighting is needed by holding a meeting or event in a single space and turning the lights off in other areas. For example: a school might have activities outside, or a restaurant could limit service to one section of tables.
  • Some equipment like refrigerators or vending machines may have internal lights that can be switched off.
  • Energy Efficiency: Investing in LED light bulbs that use less electricity and are often brighter than incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs will reduce your peak load and your annual energy costs.


Refrigeration for industries such as restaurants, grocery stores and warehouses can have a significant impact on your load. Since items inside are temperature sensitive, cutting off power entirely might not be a good idea, but there are still ways you can reduce load.

  • Avoid opening refrigerators during an event to maintain inside temperature.
  • Compressors can be turned down or off.
  • For less temperature sensitive goods, refrigeration can be unplugged, allowing the temperature to “float” for a while. Keep refrigerator doors closed to prevent contents from warming more quickly.
  • In some spaces, the amount of refrigerators can make cooling loads unnecessary, and might even require heating. Turn off air conditioning in those spaces.

Office or operational equipment

Most work spaces use some form of office equipment. While some equipment might be crucial for business, some might be extraneous or can be used before or after an event. Reducing usage of electric equipment relies heavily on employees understanding an event and planning work around it.

  • Charge equipment with batteries before an event and use battery power during the event. Laptops are the best example of this.
  • Hold meetings during event hours to reduce the amount of equipment being used.
  • Unplug or turn off extra equipment not in use during an event. For example an office might shut off all but one printer, or a retail store might turn off all but one cash register. Decorative features like fountains, television displays or sound systems should be shut off.
  • Schedule maintenance activities before or after an event such as vacuuming, dish washing, laundry, and food preparation.


Manufacturing is one of the most significant energy uses. Load shifting is an effective way to reduce loads for manufacturers however combining with lighting and cooling load reduction in office and employee spaces may provide the most benefit.

  • If spoilage isn’t a concern, manufacture and stockpile product the day before. During an event, focus on less energy intensive processes like packaging, transportation or inspection.
  • Schedule shifts before and after an event to reduce load then recover those hours by increasing productivity on either end.
  • Pumps, conveyor belts, lifts and other electric powered equipment should be turned down or off, or use battery power during an event.
  • Avoid starting continuous or batch processes that cannot be halted before an event. Start those processes when the event ends.
  • Where refrigerated storage is necessary, pre-cool storage areas and allow the temperature to “float” during an event.

Other Options

Above we listed some of the most common uses that contribute to your energy load. Different industries have different usage profiles and equipment that might contribute to your load. Below are some examples of other equipment that may be present at your business that can be adjusted to lower your energy load.

  • Pools, spas, saunas
    • Electric heating and water pumps for these features can add significant load for businesses such as schools, hotels, or recreation centers. Pools can maintain a comfortable temperature for long periods after heating has been turned off. Saunas and hot tubs may not retain temperatures for long, however taking these out of service temporarily during an event may have a significant impact on energy usage.
  • Elevators or escalators
    • Although it may not be possible to turn off elevators or escalators, you may have the option to limit service to one or two during an event.
  • Decorative or ambience features
    • Fountains, illuminated signs, video displays and sounds systems should all be turned off during an event.

There may be other ways to reduce energy usage which are specific to your business and some of these methods may be more effective than others. For businesses that are unable to cut back their energy usage through any of these methods, ask about our behind-the-meter asset offerings, which can help reduce load without interrupting work flow, and which can be installed at no cost to you.

Speak with your trusted AEP Energy advisor to learn how an energy load analysis may help you with your energy savings strategies.

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Download Commercial Energy Load Analysis PDF