Energy efficiency strategies outlined in ASSEP: Solar Air Conditioning now an option
A number of energy efficiency strategies — for all sectors — are recommended in the American Samoa Strategic Energy Plan (ASSEP).
Preliminary assessments by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicate significant energy efficiency opportunities to include:
1. Free energy audits focused on conservation and cost reduction conducted by the Territorial Energy Office;
2. Energy seminars or presentations can be held at places like the Chamber of Commerce and focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy options for commercial businesses;
3. Low to no-cost loans can be administered through a revolving loan fund to be used on energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects;
4. Building inventory and share information;
5. “Watch the Kilowatts” program;
6. Audit Program: commercial and residential; and
7. Alternative cooling
This information is noted in the ASSEP, which will be forwarded to Governor Lolo Moliga for approval before the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) and the Territorial Energy office (TEO) carry out implementation. The Strategic Energy Plan for American Samoa takes into account solutions that are needed in the near future; therefore, the Plan will initiate strategy and actions towards achievable goals to be completed by Oct. 2016.
According to the Plan, energy audits have been funded on island, most recently by the American Samoa TEO (e.g. audits of government facilities and homes through the Weatherization Assistance Program). "Although audits have occurred in the governmental sector, these audits should continue and, where possible, the measures that are applicable to similar buildings should be gleaned from audit reports and implemented across the building stock," the ASSEP notes.
For example, if two of the island’s buildings are being audited, the measures that are most commonly recommended may be applicable to similar building types. These measures may include improving lighting fixtures and controls; installing low-flow faucets, toilets, and shower heads; or installing thermostatic controls to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioning units, says the Plan.
A strategy for identifying and implementing the measures that are most commonly recommended could be a next step, but would require disclosure from the entities conducting the energy and water audits.
Similarly, the Plan continues, as part of both an outreach and buildings program, developing a “Watch the Kilowatt” program would focus on understanding how much energy is being used within a household or small commercial business.
"The objective is to inform consumers how much energy they are using at various intervals, and on what. Through this awareness, consumers can begin to practice conservation, limiting various activities or managing conservation strategies. This exercise can also inform consumers which appliances are high energy users. In many cases, replacing outdated appliances with higher energy efficient appliances will save large amounts of energy and dollars with a high return on investment," the Plan states.
Using tools such as the “kill-o-watt” displays plug loads for appliances both when running and when turned off, informing consumers how electrical devices use energy even when turned off.
The ASSEP notes that cooling is one of the highest end users in American Samoa. "Considering and implementing promising alternative cooling technologies will assist with reducing fossil fuel consumption related to conditioning indoor spaces," the report states. "There are a number of options available under the umbrella of alternative cooling technologies such as solar air cons, desiccant cooling, or opting for a higher SEER rating."
A medium-cost option is to install solar air conditioning units. While relatively new on the market, solar air conditioning units are available from a number of manufacturers and suppliers, and have a variety of different installation applications from split wall window units to larger outdoor units.
This technology is an efficient type of air conditioner (upwards from a SEER 20) that operates off of a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel, which reduces the energy demand from the grid during times when cooling and conditioning are needed.