Can I turn a parasitic energy loss into a gain?
Wiki defines parasitic loss as often applied to devices that take energy from the engine in order to enhance the engine's ability to create more energy.
When thinking about parasitic losses (in terms of energy), I tend to reflect on three things;
1) Could this loss provide some sort of benefit to the system?
2) Is the loss just a complete waste of energy or perhaps a luxury?
3) Could there be a way to convert a wasteful loss into a beneficial loss?
An oil pump on an engine is considered to be very necessary, but it takes horsepower away from the engine! However, it’s benefit is far greater than the loss of power, as it provides lubrication for the engine, and that in turn provides more horsepower. So while there is a cost to run the oil pump, it in turn provides an efficient benefit that would otherwise be lost as heat!
Most of us consider brakes very necessary (at least I hope we think of brakes as necessary) to the car, but they were designed to slow the car with no thought to the energy lost when we stop. Very wasteful indeed! Brakes use friction to stop the car, and all that energy that was spent to put the car in motion now is lost as heat. Not only that, but you have to pay to get moving again!
But what if we could turn a parasitic loss into something useful? Or reusable? Hybrid cars now turn that heat from braking into a way to charge the car’s batteries. Rather than waste the energy that was once lost as heat, we can put that energy back where we need it! Nothing is 100% efficient of course, but if there’s anyplace to recapture heat and put it back as energy that’s something that can provide some nice efficiencies!
Do you leave your car running when you come home? I would certainly hope not… So why do many of us simply walk away from our computers and leave them on? They burn power all night, and in the summer, they produce heat that the air conditioners have to continuously cool. If we could recapture this loss, we could reduce an unnecessary waste into something profitable!
Convenience is big key to enabling power savings, and an important aspect to turn parasitic loss into a profit. Of course it just easier to get up and walk away from the computer, but if we could automate control and turn unnecessary energy use into savings, the dollars can really add up!
So where are the parasitic energy losses in your environment? I’ve outlined a few that come to mind:
- Servers that are on but not being utilized or even used
- Computers that are on when the end user isn’t using them
- Network devices that are on with no traffic
- VoIP phones that are on 100% of the time
- Printers when not in use
- Lighting systems on with no one home
- AC and Heating systems over cooling or over heating.
What other areas do you see that could be parasitic draws?
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