Plug load management helps commercial buildings achieve energy reduction goals.

Plug load management lowers whole commercial building energy consumption by 10%, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Viewed individually – plug and process loads seem small and inconsequential to many. Yet plug loads represent the largest electrical end use in many buildings. The annual savings potential for US plug loads is approximately 1.6 Quads, which is equivalent to the energy usage of 16 million US households.

In the future, plug loads will represent an even larger percentage of whole-building energy usage. The percentage of whole-building energy attributed to PPLs is expected to increase from 40% to 49% by 2040, according to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE). In contrast, HVAC and other major end uses will decrease during the same time period according to the projections.

Despite the large potential for energy savings – up to 40% per device – plug loads are not typically monitored or controlled, even in buildings controlling other end uses.  This is unfortunate because plug load management solutions install quickly and deliver immediate energy savings.

What is Plug Load?

Let’s start by defining “plug load.” Traditionally, plug load refers to devices that are plugged into 120V/15A outlets. Common loads include printers, copiers, TVs, coffee makers, charging carts, vending machines, TVs, beverage dispensers and projectors.  At Bert, we also offer control and metering solutions for larger inline loads such as window AC and PTAC units, hot water heaters, commercial refrigeration, exhaust fans and air handing units.

Why Do Plug Loads Use So Much Energy?

It is hard to imagine that small loads can have such a big impact on the building’s energy consumption. There are two reasons plug loads represent such a large portion of a building’s base load. First, plug loads are ”vampire devices,” meaning they consume energy – even when no one is using them. In fact, many plug loads consume almost as much energy nights and weekends as they do during daytime working hours.  Second, loads like window AC and PTAC frequently run all night long.

How Does Plug Load Management Save Money?

Commercial buildngs are empty almost 75% of the time.  Plug load management solutions monitor and control plug load energy usage, continuously recording energy usage and automatically turning loads off while buildings are empty.  Devices are turned off nights and weekends, eliminating overnight standby loads. Paybacks vary depending on the device controlled, but typically range from less 12 months to 5 years.

How Does Plug Load Management Work?

Plug  load management solutions use a combination of “smart” outlets, software and integration tools to manage devices and collect building data. Smart plugs and inline hardware collect data from connected devices and transmit it over the existing 802.11 Wi-Fi network for measurement, tracking and control purposes.  All Bert hardware is intelligent and IoT-ready.  Bert controls loads ranging from 120V/15A devices to 277V/20A circuits.

Bert integrates plug load systems into existing energy management systems whenever possible. Bert works with BACnet/IP building automation systems as well as web-based analytics and energy management systems.

Does Plug Load Control Make Sense for You?

Let Bert do the math for you. We enter your building types, sizes and kWh rates into our proprietary modeling tool.  The tool calculates the expected number and types of plug and inline devices by building.  Using the occupancy hours for each building, Bert estimates energy savings using standby load data from previous projects.

Bert will be in La Jolla at the NAESCO Annual Conference & Vendor Showcase November 13-15th. We look forward to meeting you in Booth #31.  

Bert’s patented wireless solutions use the existing network to manage devices and collect building data from over 40,000 miscellaneous electric loads in 800+ buildings.  ESCOs rely on Bert’s to deliver verifiable energy savings and improved building efficiency. Loads can be integrated into the existing BACnet/IP-based building automation system for centralized control and administration.

Conference Description

NAESCO’s 36th annual meeting and show will highlight the opportunity for energy infrastructure and upgrading the nation’s building stock. The Renovate, Retrofit, Reduce (“R3”) Conference will explore the latest innovations in the energy efficiency market in the built space, as well as market trends on developing microgrids, venture capital for energy project finance, innovative energy supply partnerships, and U.S. cities leadership on sustainability. This conference will educate attendees on current market trends, project examples, and practices used by the U.S. energy services industry.



November 13 – November 15, 2019


Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
La Jolla, California

Implementing plug load control works best with an experienced partner.  Even though plug load energy savings is considered low hanging fruit, it represents a small piece of many performance contracts.  Therefore, ESCOs must be confident about their partners’ ability to quickly and efficiently deliver maximum energy savings before adding plug load control to a project.

At Bert, we know what we’re doing.  We created a structured installation process, designed for performance contracts, that has been refined after installing 40,000 Berts in 1,000 buildings.  We complete most projects within 6 – 8 weeks, keeping partners and users updated every step along the way.  This post highlights our approach to implementing plug load control.

Turnkey Plug Load Implementations Ensure Success

It’s a fact. ESCOs don’t have the time or energy to manage plug load projects.  Instead they rely on partners with the resources and expertise to manage the entire implementation for them.  ESCOs require turnkey solutions from vendors with the capability to handle everything, including audits, installations and integration services.

At Bert, we see ourselves as more than just a technology company.  We take complete responsibility for the entire project, from preliminary savings through measurement and verification.  In some projects, Bert performs the IGA audit and the hardware installation.  Other times, we train and manage partners selected by the ESCO.  Either way, we do not turn the system over until every Bert is named, grouped and scheduled and the post-installation savings report is created.

Details Matter When Implementing Plug Load

Projects require attention to details. Besides documenting the location and type of each load, it’s also necessary to identify locations that lack Wi-Fi coverage or have other issues preventing the installation of plug load control hardware.  Ideally, this data is shared with partners and end users throughout the project.  For instance, installers need the audit data before going on-site so they know where to go.  Performance contractors and end users want “as-built” documents reflecting up-to-the minute progress.

Cloud-based tools make it possible to keep track of the specifics.  In addition, information such as photos of hardwired inline devices can be shared real-time. Bert’s set of robust iOS and Android audit and installation tools facilitates data sharing. Besides providing instant access to the data, the technology allows Bert  to remotely monitor audits and installations, providing immediate assistance.

Provide easy-to-understand energy savings estimates

Everyone agrees the goal is delivering actual energy savings that are equal to the IGA savings estimate.  In a perfect world, IGA estimates would be identical to the post-installation savings reports. In reality, most projects have minor equipment changes.  Therefore, ESCOs and user must be able to easily compare the IGA and the final “as-built”.

Bert makes it easy by presenting all savings data in the same format.  Whether it’s a Preliminary Savings estimate, an IGA estimate, or a post-installation M&V report, the data looks the same.

To ensure the actual savings are equal to our IGA estimate, we deliberately generate conservative IGA estimates and continue to identify additional energy savings opportunities throughout the life of the project. We are proud of our ability to consistently achieve actual energy savings that exceeds our IGA estimate in many projects.

Decide upfront if projects warrant an IGA

It’s true that implementing plug load control improves most project economics, but not all projects make sense – particularly in locations with extremely low kWh rates or in buildings where devices need to be on all day, every day.  ESCOs often prefer to do an upfront analysis before deciding whether or not to proceed with an IGA.

Bert’s Preliminary Savings Sheet provides ESCOs with an educated guess about potential energy savings without going on-site. We enter the building types, building sizes and building kWh rates into a proprietary modelling tool that calculates the expected number and types of plug and inline devices by building.  Based on the occupancy hours for each building, the tool estimates energy savings using standby load data from similar devices in previous Bert projects.

Assuming the numbers make sense and the project moves forward, Bert follows up with an on-site IGA.  Estimated counts are replaced with actual counts and savings are recalculated.

If you want additional information about implementing plug load control, please feel free to reference our FAQ guide or reach out to a Bert representative.


We’re looking forward to our 5th straight NAESCO conference. Meet Bert CEO, Scott Yetter and Southern Area Business Development Manager, Kirk Rodgers in Orlando and learn why leading ESCOs included Bert’s industry-leading solutions in over 80 performance contracts.

Hint: It might be our rapid payback, quick deployment and proven implementation methodology.

Bert’s patented wireless solutions use the existing network to manage devices and collect building data from miscellaneous electric loads to deliver verifiable energy savings and improved building efficiency. In addition, Bert integrates these loads into BACnet/IP-based building automation systems for centralized control and administration.

Stop by to see us at Booth # 111!

NAESCO 35th Annual Conference

Conference Description

Targeted to the ESCO market, NAESCO’s premiere conference and vendor showcase focuses on key policy and business issues affecting the energy service industry. The program includes a mix of content, exhibit time and networking covering the latest innovations, technologies and services in the energy efficiency industry.



October 31 – November 2, 2018


Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate
ChampionsGate, Florida 33896

Welcome to Bert’s new blog about plug load solutions for commercial buildings. We plan to cover a variety of topics – potential energy savings from managing loads, various plug load control options, implementation strategies and more.

Bert’s Plug Load Solution for “Everything Else” in the Building

Bert’s plug load solution delivers the missing energy management puzzle piece; control and management for small electric loads not connected to Building Automation Systems (BAS). These loads have many names: plug loads, hardwired loads, commercial miscellaneous electric loads, plug and process loads (PPLs). While individual loads are small, plug loads are actually the fastest growing source of energy usage in commercial buildings.  In addition, plug loads are also frequently the largest source of energy usage.

The BAS handles HVAC, lighting and mechanical systems, but doesn’t address plug loads. Bert describes these loads – which are outside of a building’s core functions – as “everything else” in commercial buildings. Typical devices include printers, copiers, classroom electronics, vending machines, exhaust fans, break room equipment, window AC units, electric hot water heaters and air handling units. 

Plug loads run 24/7 because they are not managed or controlled. Buildings waste money powering devices in empty buildings. Bert’s plug load management solution uses the existing wireless network to turn devices off when buildings are empty. At the same time, Bert collects and stores real-time granular device, measurement and temperature data for increased efficiency and comfort. As a result, building operators save money and gain valuable insight into building operations. Bert can either be installed as a standalone solution or integrated into the existing BAS.

Bert controls everything else

Plug Load Data from 40,000 Loads

Bert is the leading wireless Plug Load Solution supplier, with over 40,000 smart plugs and inline units installed. Bert controls devices in school districts, colleges, local governments, office buildings, and sporting venues. In each project, Bert inventories the number and types of plug and hardwired loads by building. Data is entered into Bert’s proprietary data model.

In short, we crunch the numbers to calculate the average number of devices – printers, vending machines, charging carts etc. – found per square foot in particular building types. Bert maintains density factors for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, college academic buildings, academic labs, administrative/office buildings and public assembly buildings.

Bert collects baseline measurement data from loads each device after the plug load control hardware is installed.  The data is analyzed to determine average standby loads and energy usage patterns for various devices.

How Much Energy Do Plug Loads Use Each Year?

To put plug loads into context:

According to the Department of Energy, devices with non-traditional end uses consumed over 7 quadrillion BTU in 2012. That’s a big number.  In fact, it’s equivalent to the amount of dynamite needed to carve Mount Rushmore 135,800,000 times, according to the Department of Energy’s Direct Currents Energy Unit Calculator .  The calculator uses alternative energy units to make energy consumption easier to understand.

The Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2015 forecasts that primary energy consumption from plug loads will grow 27% from 2016 to 2030 and the contribution of these loads to total building energy consumption increases from 36% in 2016, to 43% in 2030 under its business-as-usual scenario.

Standby or overnight loads associated with MELs account for more than 100 billion kWh and $ 11 billion in annual energy costs in the United States alone, according to Energy Star®. In case you’re wondering – that’s the same amount of energy needed for 6,116 Moon Landings.