The bottom line of running a successful business is to make every dollar count. And cutting back on unnecessary energy use keeps hard earned money where it should be.
Here are some basic energy saving ideas for any office this summer, from a home office to the company HQ. In addition to these, there are often rebates and incentives from local utility companies that can help facility managers (fms) find creative ways to save.
- Whenever possible, don’t use large equipment during the peak hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Turn equipment and lights off after hours.
- Always choose ENERGY STAR® products whenever possible.
- Set energy saving features on all office equipment to put it into sleep mode when not in use.
- An energy audit might be the best investment a business can make.
Cooling and Ventilation Systems – Improve the Efficiency
- Set the thermostat in your workspace to 78˚F during work hours, and raise the setting to 85˚F when the space is unoccupied. The energy savings can be significant—as much as 2% of an organization’s air conditioning costs for each one degree the thermostat is raised. By example: If all businesses in California set their thermostats to a higher temperature, the State would save 770 megawatts for every 2˚F.
- Use a programmable thermostat and make it easy to adjust the settings as well as regulate the temperature when the business is closed to avoid unnecessary cooling costs. Consider a locking cover over the thermostat to avoid having employees change temperature settings.
- Close window blinds to shade rooms from direct sunlight.
- Allow workers to wear comfortable clothing during hot weather. It makes little sense to keep a room cold enough that workers must wear suits and coats.
- To save energy, keep exterior and freight doors closed as much as possible. Consumers frequently complain about retailers who run their air conditioning on high to keep their stores as cold as possible while leaving their doors wide open.
- Keep cooling and ventilation systems tuned. Maintain a regular filter replacement and cleaning schedule. Don’t forget to check ducts and pipe insulation.
- Install window film, solar screens, or awnings in south and west facing windows.
- Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare.
- Install ceiling fans—they make it feel at least 4˚F cooler during the summer.
- When buying new cooling and ventilation units, choose ENERGY STAR. They are 20% to 30% more efficient than older models.
- Rewire restroom fans to operate when the lights are turned on.
- Install an air conditioning economizer to bring in outside air when it’s cool.
- Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.
- If possible, install ceiling and wall insulation. Organizations will save money on monthly utility bills and employees will be more comfortable.
- Install ENERGY STAR labeled reflected “Cool Roof” roofing materials.
Lighting – The Right Light for the Right Task
- Many offices, stores, or factories can easily reduce lighting without affecting productivity. Turn off as many unnecessary lights as possible. Use task lighting instead of overhead lighting, and light only those areas that are needed at the time. Providing the right lighting can save up to 15% on lighting bills.
- Again, make sure that equipment and lights are turned off after hours.
- Replace old fluorescent lights with newer, more efficient models with electronic ballasts (such as retrofit T12 lights with magnetic ballasts to T8 lights and electronic ballasts).
- Replace high use incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. A compact fluorescent light uses 75% less electricity to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb. The compact fluorescent will last about 10,000 hours as opposed to the 600 to 1,000 hour average life of an incandescent. By replacing a 100-watt incandescent with an equivalent 25-watt compact fluorescent, fms can save more than $90 per bulb in electricity costs over the 10,000-hour lifetime of the compact fluorescent.
- Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps, and reflective surfaces are cleaned regularly. By removing grease, dust, and other dirt, fms can increase the output of lights.
- Install automatic, occupancy sensor room-lighting controls to turn lights on or off depending on occupancy or time of day.
- Change out incandescent or fluorescent exit signs with LED exit signs.
Computers and Other Office Equipment
- Turn off computers and any other office equipment when not in use, especially overnight and weekends. This practice costs nothing and can potentially save as much as $44 per year, per computer, depending on what fms pay per kilowatt-hour. “Smart” power strips are being marketed that sense the presence or absence of office workers and turn the attached equipment on and off accordingly.
- For computer protection during a power curtailment, a company might invest in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (also known as UPS systems) which combine surge protectors and battery packs. These will run a computer for a short time to allow a worker to save files and prevent the loss of information when the power goes out.
- To be as energy efficient as possible, only buy office equipment that displays the ENERGY STAR logo.
- Choose settings that automatically switch the computer monitor into sleep or “power down” mode when it hasn’t been worked on for a preset period of time. Shorten the delay time before monitors automatically go into sleep mode.
- Consider having employees use laptop computers since they use up to 90% less energy than a standard computer.
- If it makes sense for the organization business, consider ink-jet printers which also use 90% less energy than laser printers.
- Purchase the proper sized copier for the needs of the business.
- Choose a flat-panel computer monitor rather than a regular cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor. Some flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors use considerably less electricity than comparably-sized CRT models, but the extra first cost is still much more than the lifetime energy savings. However, prices for LCD monitors have been dropping, so they may be cost effective. Keep in mind, the bigger the monitor, the more energy it uses. For example, a 17-inch monitor consumes 35% more electricity than a 14-inch monitor.
Find out more about energy audits and explore additional energy saving options here.