Can I use voltage reduction as an energy-saving measure?


I have been told that I could save energy by lowering the voltage within my building. Is this safe and will this save me energy?


Undesirable issues may arise due to voltage problems in your premises or on the grid network. Such problems can manifest themselves in a number of ways. Examples include:

  • Lights that dim when other appliances are in use.
  • Computer screens become unstable when other appliances are in use.
  • Electrical motors that fail to start first time.

It is important to review voltage fluctuations to discover voltage drops, power outage characteristics and patterns of low and high voltage levels.

Example of Voltage variations.

Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR) is a proven technology for reducing energy and peak demand. It is generally implemented upstream of end service points in the distribution system so the efficiency benefits are realised by consumers and the distributor. CVR consists of controlling the voltage on a distribution circuit to the lower end of a tolerance band, meaning that end-use loads draw less power when voltage is lowered.

CVR has been estimated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to produce between 0.5–4% energy savings on circuits where it is implemented, with 80–90% of that occurring on the customer side of the meter. Because benefits in the form of energy savings accrue to customers, utilities have little or no incentive to invest in CVR. CVR systems deployed at the customer side of the meter are however on the market and prove to be a suitable source of energy savings with viable payback. More about CVR can be found at [1].