Select Your Strategies
Plug Loads

The energy consumed by any electrical device that is plugged into a socket

Plug loads are the energy loads in a building that are not related to overhead lighting, heating, cooling, or water heating. Since they are decentralized, it is often difficult for these loads to be estimated or tracked. But these hard-to-track plug loads can account for up to 15% of commercial energy use1 and nearly 40% of electricity use in office buildings.2 As buildings become more energy efficient, plug loads constitute a larger portion of the overall building load.3

While plug loads are often thought to be outside the architect’s scope, when designing energy efficient buildings, every kilowatt-hour (kWh) saved is important. However, these are heavily reliant upon occupant behavior and require education and encouragement to help reduce the plug loads. Since each building has different types of equipment, use schedules and occupant behavior, it is important to work with the client in order to identify major-energy users and potential savings. Efficient space planning, particularly minimization of break rooms, common print areas and cafeterias, can help to limit the number of pieces of equipment a building requires.