Gus Cueto, Owner of Enco Technologies, discusses how his company integrates with a businesses security system to provide energy management services.
Ben Lack: Well, I’m here with Gus Cueto of Enco Technologies. Thanks so much for being with us today.
Gus Cueto: Thank you for coming.
Ben Lack: Can you tell us a little bit about what your company does?
Gus Cueto: Absolutely. What we’ve put together is a suite of products to provide building automation or energy management for the small commercial space. Statistically, 90% of the building stock in the U.S. is under 20,000 square feet and that segment of the market is not being serviced by companies that can provide building automation systems or energy management systems. Hundreds of companies are available that do building automation for buildings this size, for large million square foot facilities, for college campuses. But it’s that other 90% of the building stock that’s being completely ignored, and it presents a tremendous opportunity for just nationwide energy savings on a macro level. But for each individual owner, there’s a significant opportunity to provide energy management for those buildings.
Obviously, the issue for those buildings is cost. There’s no real budget for providing a sophisticated energy management control system in those buildings. So what we’ve done is we’ve taken a device that’s fairly ubiquitous in practically every building which is a security system. Security system is actually a very intelligent device. It knows when the first employee arrives in the morning. It knows when the last employee leaves in the evening. It knows if there’s people moving around in the building, knows if the cleaning crew is there. It even knows if it’s being broken into. So what we’re doing is we’re capitalizing on that information and using it to control basically the largest energy consumers in these building space which is lighting and HVAC.
So we have an example here where basically it’s a mock-up of a little office. And the idea of the system is when the last employee leaves, they simply turn on the security system. And what that does is it sets back the HVAC thermostat to an unoccupied setting for saving energy. We tell them go ahead and leave the lights on of the building so now the last employee can leave the building a lit building. So it provides a safer work environment. In this particular office, it’s an OB/GYN office. It’s tucked in a corner, in a little dark cul-de-sac. So in the winter time, the women that work there, it’s pretty scary to leave a dark building in a dark cul-de-sac. It’s actually a new, industrial complex so there’s a lot of empty buildings. It’s pretty scary so they really love this feature, being able to leave all the lights on until they’ve safely left the premises.
If the last employee forgets to turn on the security system, what this system does is it knows that at five o’clock, the business closes. So then at five o’clock nobody has turned on the security system, it will start scanning all of the motion detectors to determine if the building is empty. And if it does not see motion for a continuous 30 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever that might be, it says the building’s empty and they forgot to turn on the security system. It’ll go ahead and automatically arm itself. It’ll automatically set back the thermostat to an energy save mode and automatically shut off the controlled lights.
Ben Lack: Are there certain temperatures that you guys recommend when the system shuts off?
Gus Cueto: Absolutely. We do fairly aggressive setbacks which for the HVAC, for cooling, we set it back to eighty degrees. For heating, we drop it down to fifty-five. The only time we may change that is if in the heating side, if you have a heat pump, you shouldn’t drop a heat pump down too low because the amount of time it takes for a heat pump to come back to temperature is longer than a standard air conditioning system.
Ben Lack: And are there timers in place that help the system turn on before the occupants come in the building?
Gus Cueto: Absolutely, absolutely. Since the security system again is very intelligent. It has a lot of information. It knows that your opening hour is eight o’clock. So at seven o’clock it’s going to start bringing air conditioning systems on one by one but not all simultaneously because if you bring them all on simultaneously, the power company sees a huge peak demand, and they’ll charge you extra for that. So you want to try to bring them up slowly. So we start doing that.
Another neat feature is let’s say you open up at eight. At eight o’clock, your HVAC systems are up and running. Let’s say nobody shows up for work. It’s 8:30, nine o’clock. Perhaps it’s a holiday. Perhaps it’s a storm and nobody’s shown up for work. It says, “I guess today’s a holiday.” It’ll go ahead and return that thermostat back to an unoccupied setting or an energy save mode. If an employee does show up later in the day, as soon as he turn off the alarm, it’s going to go back to a comfortable setting. And of course, as soon as a first employee arrives and they open the door, then it’s going to turn on just required lights, not all the lights. And then each employee can still control lights individually.
Ben Lack: And how do you guys figure out what costs is associated for each customer?
Gus Cueto: Yes. What we found is we typically get about a 20 to 30 percent savings in energy. In order to make this more palpable for the business owner, what we do is, at most, kind of 9-to-5, say doctor’s office-type scenario, where basically those type of offices, they’re energy density, how much energy they use per square foot is actually low compared to say a restaurant or maybe like a printing facility has a lot of machinery that runs. So we say even in those scenarios where the energy density is low we tell you give us twelve months worth of your energy bills and we’ll put the system in for about 15% of that yearly energy cost. That way you’re pretty much assured that you’ll get your return on investment within one year.
Ben Lack: And the 20 to 30 percent savings that you’re generating that’s coming from a combination of the lighting savings and the HVAC savings?
Gus Cueto: Exactly. Primarily from HVAC and then also from lighting.
Ben Lack: So let’s say that the system’s been installed, you walk away or are there other things that you while the system’s in place?
Gus Cueto: Well, we do, obviously, security monitoring because we are the security system, so they’ll be the same central station. Our system’s are monitored by ULS at central station. So it’ll be your standard security monitoring. We basically call this our silent partner because each business owner has a silent partner working for them 24 hours a day, making sure that their building is basically working for them. It’s self-managed building. You know for a fact that no matter what the employees do, no matter what paper clips they stick inside the thermostat, when that security system is turned on, that HVAC system is being set back. It’s keeping a safer work environment. It let’s the employees go ahead and leave some lights on so they can leave a building safely. So now you’ve got basically something in the background working for you 24/7. You’re getting more for that monthly monitoring that you’re paying for security. Typically, even the most roughest of neighborhoods, buildings get broken into very rarely. So for that $24, $25 a month that you’re paying for security, you’re really not getting much for it. Here you’re getting a full building automation system and what we call our silent partner.
Ben Lack: So final question: if you could tell us why you do what you do.
Gus Cueto: That’s a good question. What I like to tell people is that in my previous life, basically what I did was industrial automation. I’m a registered professional engineer, control systems engineering. So I use to design very elaborate control systems for large industrial complexes, pulp mill, paper mills, specialty chemical plants. I started investigating security systems for small commercial buildings and maybe incorporating some of the control features that I learned in my industrial experience into the small commercial buildings. And I saw that there was a big need for energy management in these smaller commercial buildings and nobody was providing it. The large companies that provide commercial building automation systems just really do not want to deal with those smaller buildings. So I came up with a family of products in a system to provide building automation for these smaller buildings which, like I said, a real need for this kind of system because it’s a significant portion of our building stock in the U.S., so by automating these small buildings can make a tremendous impact in our total energy consumption nationwide.
Ben Lack: Well, thanks so much for being with us today. We wish you guys lots of luck and we look forward to hearing from you guys soon.
Gus Cueto: Thank you.
Tags: air conditioning, daily energy news, daily energy report, enco technologies, energy efficiency, energy management, energy news, energy report, gus cueto, HVAC, lighting, security system, small business