Energy-saving tips for businesses

You can improve your business' bottom line by taking the following steps to make your office more energy-efficient.

Lighting

  • Turn off lights when not needed. For example, turning off fluorescent lights saves energy, extends overall lamp life and reduces replacement costs. Myth: Turning lights on and off uses more electricity than leaving the lights on.
  • Reduce or replace inefficient, outdated or excessive lighting within your building.
  • When replacing old lighting equipment, evaluate new technologies that may need fewer fixtures and/or fewer lamps within existing fixtures.
  • Ensure that light levels will remain at adequate levels before changing out technologies and/or reducing number of lamps.
  • Where practical, replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Ensure you install compatible dimming technology if CFLs are used along with a dimming system.
  • When fluorescent T-12 lamps burn out, consider retrofitting fixtures with T-8 lamps and changing from magnetic ballast to electronic.
  • Replace incandescent "EXIT" signs with LED signs. LEDs use about one-tenth the wattage and last 50 times longer than incandescent-lamp signs.
  • Install lighting occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on or off, depending on occupancy. These sensors work well in areas such as conference rooms, break rooms or individual offices that are not occupied continuously.
  • Take advantage of natural daylight: turn off or dim electric lighting when adequate sunlight is available to illuminate interior space.
  • Ensure outdoor lighting is off during daytime.

Heating and cooling

  • Establish a preventative maintenance program for your heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and systems. Ensure that you regularly:
    • Change or clean all air filters, preferably every month.
    • Clean all heat exchanger surfaces, water and refrigerant coils, condensers and evaporators.
    • Repair leaks in piping, air ducts, coils, fittings and at the unit(s).
    • Replace defective equipment insulation, ducting and piping.
  • When replacing air conditioning units of five tons or greater, purchase units with a high energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 10.5 or more to reduce operating costs for the life of the unit. Ensure that your contractor performs a "Manual N" calculation to select a properly sized system based on your building load characteristics and specific occupancy needs.
  • When old motors fail, replace them with premium efficiency motors that operate at a lower annual cost. Ensure you specify the proper sized motor for the application. View cost reduction strategies for motors Document is a PDF.
  • Install variable speed drives (VSDs) on large motor loads, where appropriate, to further reduce energy usage.
  • Use outside air and water side-economizers for "free cooling" when outside air temperatures and conditions permit - during the spring and fall.
  • In facilities with older chillers, consider replacing them with new, energy-efficient units that operate at or below .60 kilowatts per ton. View a chilled water system analysis tool Document is a PDF to improve efficiency.

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Temperature control

  • In winter, set office thermostat offices between 65 and 68 during the day/business hours, and 60 to 65 degrees during unoccupied times.
  • In summer, set thermostats between 78 and 80 degrees during the day/business hours, and above 80 degrees during unoccupied hours.
  • Adjust thermostats higher when cooling and lower when heating an occupied building or unoccupied areas within a building, e.g., during weekends and non-working hours.
  • During summer months, adjusting your thermostat setting up one degree typically can save 2-3% on cooling costs.
  • Consider installing locking devices on thermostats to maintain desired temperature settings.
  • Install programmable thermostats that automatically adjust temperature settings based on the time of day and day of the week. If you have multiple HVAC units, set thermostats to return to the occupied temperature a half an hour apart.
  • In larger facilities with energy management systems (EMS), verify that temperature set points and operating schedules are correct for the controlled equipment. For EMS systems that no longer operate as initially designed, consider a retrocommissioning project to restore the system's functionality.

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Office equipment

  • To conserve energy and reduce internal heat gain, turn off computers, monitors, printers and copiers during non-business hours.
  • To save energy during periods of inactivity, ensure that the built-in power management system for your office equipment is active.
  • Ensure your screen saver is compatible with the computer's power management features, and that the setup allows the system to go into power saver mode.
  • According to E-Source, using a laptop computer instead of a desk-top system can save 80-90% in electrical cost.
  • When purchasing new office equipment, look for ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR office equipment program promotes energy-efficient computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, scanners, copiers and multi-function devices that automatically power down during extended inactivity. Energy saving of 50% or more is possible.
  • Install plug load controllers in cubicles to control multiple loads like monitors, task lights and fans. These devices use a motion sensor that is incorporated with a plug load surge suppressor. Inactive equipment can be shut down when the cubicle is unoccupied.
  • Specify ENERGY STAR equipment when purchasing or negotiating a contract for new vending machines. The ENERGY STAR machines incorporate energy efficient compressors with refrigeration and lighting controls. Efficient vending equipment can save 30-50% over older equipment.

Employee involvement

  • Educate and encourage employees to be energy-conscious and to offer ideas about how energy can be saved. Employee buy-in and involvement can make or break your company's efforts to conserve energy.
  • Designate a "responsible party" to be responsible for and to promote good energy practices for the organization and/or facility. This individual should work with management to facilitate energy savings ideas and strategies - optimizing energy use and costs minimizes overhead and operation costs.

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