Energy management and systems technology programs prepare people to help engineers develop ways to save energy. Students learn how to make systems more energy efficient. They also learn to test and monitor the use of power in homes and businesses.
The U.S. has only about five percent of the world's population, yet we consume 25 percent of the world's energy resources. Many believe that this consumption is contributing to global warming. As a result, energy conservation is becoming a big concern, and there's a need for technicians in this field.
As an energy management technician, your job is to make energy conservation work. You may help engineers doing research studies. For example, you might gather data on the performance of a high-efficiency clothes dryer. You might measure distribution of heat in a building with a new design for ducts. Another possible role is as an energy auditor working for a utility company. You might visit businesses and homes and measure how they are using energy. You would write reports that show the owners where their energy dollars are going and that point out ways they could use energy more efficiently.
You can learn these skills in a two-year program that leads to an associate degree. Only a few colleges presently offer a program in this specific field. Programs vary in their emphasis. Some stress general engineering skills and include a lot of science and math. You learn scientific methods of doing research. You study a computer language. These skills can be helpful if you later work with engineers. You also study economics and accounting so that you understand the dollars and cents of energy conservation and can express them in the terms that businesses use.
Other programs stress specific knowledge of energy systems. They often include a lot of hands-on work with the technology. You study how various energy systems work in businesses and homes. You study electric power, lighting, heating, even plumbing. You learn how to measure energy use by these systems. You learn how to represent this in computer-based models such as spreadsheets and databases. You can use these models to show how improved designs and new technology can lower costs.