Energy-efficient measures portfolio expanded for 2013-14

Good news for small and medium sized businesses in Yolo County. The Energy Watch commercial direct-install energy efficiency measure portfolio has been expanded for 2013-2014. The expanded measure mix will provide small and medium sized businesses with additional opportunities to be more comprehensive in their energy efficiency efforts.

The program works the same as it has in the past. Upon request an Energy Advisor will visit the business and conduct a free energy assessment. No obligation is necessary. Assessments will identify a customized package of program qualified measures that can be installed for a nominal fee as well as information on other PG&E programs. Customers who elect to participate will need to provide a recent PG&E bill and complete the Access and Participation Agreement. The following list is an example of the energy efficient measures available to business customers in Yolo County:

  • 4-foot and 8-foot high-performance linear fluorescent fixture retrofits (T-12 to T-8 or T-5)
  • Interior and exterior lighting measures include:
    • T-8 and T-5 high-bay fixtures
    • Pulse-start metal halide
    • Induction
    • Wall packs
    • Canopy lighting
    • Parking lot lighting
  • Compact fluorescent lamps
  • LED downlights
    • PAR 20 (11watt), 30 (14-20watt), 38 (16-27watt)
    • MR-16 (20watt, 35watt, 50watt)
  • LED open signs
  • Occupancy sensor
  • Vacancy sensor
  • High-bay sensor
  • Vending machine controller
  • Photocell (exterior lighting)
  • Time clock (interior lighting)
  • Energy efficient refrigeration measures include:
    • LED case lighting
    • Anti-sweat controls
    • Automatic door closers
    • ECM for walk-in evaporator fan
    • Strip curtains for refrigerated storage
    • Vertical and horizontal night covers

To participate or find out more about this program or other energy and saving programs, contact Yolo County Energy Watch at, or call at (530) 723-6220.

The general requirements for lighting and energy efficiency measures are as follows: All fixtures, lamps, ballasts, etc. must be on the Energy Star qualified products list or the Design Lights Consortium (DLC) qualified product list, and be listed with the Department of Energy Lighting Facts Program.

“California consumers are not obligated to purchase any full fee service or other service not funded by this Program. This Program is funded by California utility ratepayers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC.)”

Occupancy sensor power strips 

Occupancy-sensing power strips can help organizations and businesses save a significant amount of money on their utility bill by automatically turning off specific devices when no one is around. Office equipment and miscellaneous plug loads account for up to 30% of a building’s electrical use, depending on building type. The data for this article was extrapolated from businesses served by the commercial direct install lighting program that I manage in central and northern California. 

 There are several manufactures of these devices, so do your homework or consult a professional before making a purchase. The type and size will vary depending on the load (computer, printer, fax machine, etc.). Two popular brands are iPan and WattStopper and they can be purchased from various retailers for $30 to $50. Occupancy sensing power strips use passive infrared (PIR) technology to determine occupancy or vacancy and turns equipment on or off accordingly. You decide which devices to plug into the strip, and which devices you want to have plugged directly into the outlet. For example, you may want to plug your monitor, printer, and other accessories into the occupancy sensor power strip, but keep desktop computers plugged directly to the outlet. 

 Several utility companies have rebates for occupancy sensor power strips which will help offset the cost. For example, the PG&E rebate for qualifying plug loads is approximately $15. You can see more on the rebate list, look for  Code L65 Plug Load Occupancy Sensor $15/sensor. The Yolo Energy Watch and PG&E have partnered to provide a network of 3rd party “direct-install” contractors who provide energy efficiency assessments and low cost retrofits. Some of these contractors are incentivized to provide business customers and organizations plug load occupancy sensors for a minimal fee. The fee includes delivery and set-up. Often times plug occupancy sensors will be free when installed with other energy efficiency measures. For a complete list of 3rd-party providers go to contact Yolo Energy Watch for more information.

Vacancy sensor help the bottom line 

The financial impact of the country’s economic recession has forced businesses to significantly reduce operating costs. Sadly a large number of these businesses are unaware that government legislation has led to the creation of regulating committees and utility company sponsored energy efficiency programs to help customers reduce electrical demand during peak hours. Participation in these energy efficiency programs can help businesses save hundreds of dollars annually by reducing their utility bills.

Lighting and office equipment electrical loads account for over 20 percent of a buildings electrical usage. This article focuses on savings that can be derived by installing occupancy or vacancy sensors in commercial buildings--up to 40 percent of total lighting costs, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The 3rd party commercial direct-install lighting program I manage focuses on providing businesses with solutions to help reduce operating costs by installing energy efficient lighting and controls. The following factors need to be considered when selecting occupancy or vacancy sensors for any building or structure:
  1. Building type (grocery, office, warehouse, etc.)
  2. Functionality Desired (occupancy – vs. - vacancy)
    • Occupancy sensor - automatically turns the light on when motion is sensed and light automatically turns off when space is vacated and motion is no longer detected.
    • Vacancy sensor – Light must be manually turned on and is automatically turned off when space is vacated and motion is no longer detected.
  3. Occupancy type (office, restroom, closet, storage, server room, etc.)
  4. Wall mounted, ceiling mounted, or a combination of both

As the manager of a commercial direct-install lighting program I have seen fantastic results when commercially rated wall switches with passive infrared (motion sensing) and self-adaptive technology (device learns usage patterns) was installed. In some instances, my team installed a wireless ceiling mounted sensor and paired it with the wall mount sensor to enhance coverage area and performance. This practice is especially helpful when retrofitting server rooms, file storage rooms, and cubicle bays as these spaces usually have racking, shelving, and partition walls which interfere with the sensor lens.

On occasion my program staff will conduct a light logger study which aids in determining typical usage patterns (lights on and space is occupied vs. lights on and space is vacated) for various building types. The results help us identify the sensor types that are appropriate for each space thus optimizing coverage area and increasing efficiency.

Donald Kewley is program manager at RHA Inc., an energy efficiency firm that is the 3rd-party contractor and partner of Yolo Energy Watch. He can be reached at