When it comes to the electricity supply and usage, consumers tend to focus on many things. Among them is efficiency. Is there proper utilization of the electricity at my home or institution?
This is where the term load factor comes in. In this guide, we are going to break down all the details that you should know about load factor.
- 1 What is a load factor?
- 2 Load factor formula
- 3 Importance of load factor
- 4 How can I improve the load factor?
- 5 What if your load factor is over 100%?
- 6 What if you get an extremely high load factor?
- 7 What is a typical load factor?
- 8 Why is the load factor high during the winter?
- 9 Conclusion
What is a load factor?
In the field factor, the load factor is the calculation or measurement of the efficiency of energy usage. We can also refer to it as the measurement of the utilization of energy. Is my household utilizing the energy to the fullest or is there a massive wastage?
You can get the actual value of the load factor by taking the total energy consumed in a month (kwh) divided by your peak demand and then multiplying it by the days of the billing cycle and the total number of hours in which the electricity was used.
The resulting figure will be a ratio between zero and one. The higher ratio (or percentage) the more efficient you are when it comes to electricity usage.
Load factor formula
We can summarize the formula as follows:
kilowatts per hour (kwh)/peak demand(kW) *days* hours
Load factor= Kwh/Kw *total number of hours.
The field factor is calculated by dividing the total kilowatt-hours (KWh) consumed over the billing period by the peak demand in kilowatts. The load factor calculation is done for both on-peak and off-peak periods during a billing period. It is only used for billing periods that have a peak demand of less than 1,000 kW. The load factor is used to determine if an energy customer is using their energy efficiently.
Load Factors are calculated in different ways depending on which energy provider you use and how your electricity usage compares to the average usage of your utility company.
Let’s take an example In Ontario, BC Hydro calculates load factors based on the number of days your electricity is used, not just at any one time. This means that if you have an average electricity consumption for the month that uses more than your utility provider’s maximum usage allowance, then you will be charged extra fees. If you are below average and use less than your provider’s maximum amount of electricity, you will not be charged extra fees.
Hydro One uses the average daily kilowatt-hours (KWh) consumed over the billing period to calculate your load factor. This means that if you are below average and use less than your utility provider’s maximum amount of electricity, you will not be charged extra fees. If you are above average and use more than your utility provider’s maximum amount of electricity, you will be charged additional fees.
Importance of load factor
As an ordinary consumer of electricity, should I worry about the load factor? Of course, you should! It is all about the efficiency of your energy usage and you should pay attention to it.
Here are the top reasons why load factor is important both to your household and business:
Helps you monitor the electricity usage
Load factor will ensure that you keep tabs on how you consume electricity in your household. If you are a user of electricity, you must find out how much electricity you use. This will help you to know where your electricity is going and if it is being used effectively. If your loads are high and your bills are high, this means that there is a lot of wastage in the usage of electricity. To avoid this, all you have to do is lower your load factor to lower the amount of energy that is being consumed.
Helps you plan for energy consumption
It is important to plan and budget for the amount of energy that you will require at various times in the year. The load factor will help you do this and also ensure that your consumption doesn’t exceed what was planned by your energy supplier.
If it does exceed these plans, then there will be extra charges on top of what was planned for. In addition, if there happens to be a period when the demand for energy increases as compared to supply, then extra charges can also be added on to the bill.
Helps you save on costs
If you are a smart consumer and you are keen on the figures of the load factor, then you can be sure that you will be able to track your consumption and get alerts when it exceeds the limits that were set for the month. This will help you keep tabs on how much energy is being used, how much the charges are, and whether or not it is being used effectively.
If things are not going well, then it is best to contact your energy provider so that they can look into the matter and find out what needs to be done to fix any issues.
Give you information about your electrical appliances consumption
Load factor is a number that is calculated based on the overall consumption of electricity. This number can give you valuable hints on which appliances are heavy consumers and which ones are not.
It helps in determining the amount of electricity being used by electrical appliances. This information can be accessed by you through your smart meter and helps you take measures to ensure that you are not wasting energy and also saving on costs.
Eliminates the risk of overloading
If a load factor is significant, then it could mean that there is an overuse of energy and this could be causing serious issues for your home or business. The problem with overloading is that it can lead to a short circuit, which may cause damage to your appliances and also cause them to stop working altogether. The power supply will then have to be restored and this can take several hours, which might cost a lot of money.
It is best to keep track of how much energy you are using on an hourly basis so that you can know when it starts getting high and so that you can take immediate action before things get out of hand.
Prevents potential damage
As mentioned above, overloading can lead to a short circuit, which may lead to damage to your appliances and also cause them to stop working altogether. The power supply will then have to be restored and this can take several hours or even days depending on how much energy has been used. This could cause serious issues for your business or home and also cause unnecessary losses.
How can I improve the load factor?
As we have mentioned, the higher the electrical load factor the better. It is an indication of high efficiency. So, you should aim at improving those figures. But, how can I improve it?
Here are some tips that can help you achieve a high load factor;
Changing your peak usage time
Here we simply mean that you should change your peak usage time from early morning to late afternoon.
Let’s say if your peak usage was in the evening, you can change it to morning and vice versa. Reduce the number of electric appliances that are running in the evening so that their tasks can be done in the morning.
Reducing your consumption
If you are using more energy than what you need, then it is very important that you reduce it. You can do this by simply switching off unnecessary appliances, turning off lights and devices when not in use, reducing the water temperature and switching off the air-conditioner when not in use.
Using energy-saving light bulbs
Energy-saving light bulbs can be used in all your electrical appliances. They are cheap, long-lasting, and help save electricity. You can switch them on for a few hours during the day or night and switch them off for an hour or two before going to bed so that they don’t waste any energy at all.
Proper usage of appliances
Each electric appliance is designed to be used in a designated way for optimum performance. Poor or improper usage can lead to the overconsumption of electrical energy. This includes not using the appliance in the right way, not cleaning them properly, or not unplugging them when they are not being used.
Using an energy-efficient refrigerator:
Refrigerators consume a lot of electricity. So, it is very important that you use a refrigerator that is efficient and saves energy. The best way to do this is by buying one that is energy star certified. This means that it has met certain standards through the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and has been awarded a gold star rating which ensures that the appliance is energy efficient.
Buying an original electrical appliance
Do you know that the quality of electrical appliances that you use has a direct impact on your load factor?
Strive to buy quality appliances original from manufacturers. Most of them are manufactured to be energy-efficient and hence will not be heavy consumers of electrical energy. While refurbished appliances may be cheap, they may not be efficient when it comes to energy consumption. They will end up lowering your load factor.
Using Energy Star rated lighting
Energy star-rated lighting uses less electricity than standard lighting and can save you up to 80% on electrical bills. This means that if you have any energy-star-rated light in your home, you will reduce electricity consumption by 20%. This means that for every 100 watts used, only 80
watts are actually being used from the power supply.
What if your load factor is over 100%?
A load factor exceeding 100% means that your usage has gone beyond the one theoretically allocated on the meter. This is impossible and you should check again the numbers that you have used in the calculation. Probably you have used the wrong data when doing your calculations. Or maybe one of your electrical appliances is faulty and needs repair and replacement.
What if you get an extremely high load factor?
Now let’s talk about being on the extreme other side of the spectrum. What does it imply? Is it something that I should be worried about?
Less than 20% load factor could also be a sign of a problem with your electricity usage.
It could be an indication that a high load is generated in short bursts then it is turned off.
A load factor of less than 20% could also mean that you are using a lot of electricity, but not at the same time.
If your load factor is less than 20%, it is advisable to check your electrical usage:
The fact that the load factor is low is not a problem in itself. But if it’s exceptionally low, then you should investigate further and make sure that there are no problems with your electrical appliances.
If your electrical usage is excessive, then you can take steps to reduce them. For example, by replacing older equipment with energy-efficient ones or by using timers to control when some appliances are used.
What is a typical load factor?
For medium households and small commercial buildings or offices, the load factor should range between 40% to 60%. We have factored in the basic appliances such as HVAC, refrigerators, and lighting systems.
The figures may vary for large commercial applications depending on the type of appliances and types of machinery used and how they are used.
Why is the load factor high during the winter?
To understand this, we need to look at the way the load factor is calculated.
The load factor is calculated as a percentage of the maximum demand that was registered during the year.
It is not based on the total amount of electricity used during the year.
In other words, during the winter months, there are a lot of days when people use electric heaters to keep their homes warm. This means that the maximum demand will be high and so will the load factor.
This does not mean that you are using more electricity than in the summer months. It simply means that your peak usage will be higher than your average usage.
There you have it. We have discussed all you need to know about the electrical load factor. The load factor can be used to determine the average amount of electricity that you use. Next time you are buying an appliance, remember to consider the impact that it will have on the load factor.
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