Energy Efficiency: 18 Easy to Implement Tips for Your Business
Most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gasses and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels, water, and land are all scarce resources that are at risk without proper energy efficiency initiatives. Reducing energy consumption and using renewable energy sources are two of the most important steps to becoming eco-friendly.
Energy usage is most often the top carbon contributor for a business and investing in renewable energy is a notable solution towards reducing emissions. This can be a costly upfront investment for many businesses, but can lower your bills over time and provide a strong return on investment.
Business Benefits of Reducing Energy Consumption
There are countless benefits associated with reducing your business’ energy consumption including:
- Reduces your energy bill, saving you money
- Reduces your carbon footprint
- Energy efficient devices have a longer life span, better performance, and easier maintenance
- Protects scarce resources such as fossil fuels, water, and land
Company Energy Usage Questions
Before making the switch to more efficient energy practices, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it possible to make the switch to green energy?
- How much control do we have over our building?
- What changes can we make to our building to make it more energy efficient?
- What cultural changes can we make to reduce energy consumption?
- When are we planning on replacing devices that use significant amounts of energy?
- Are there more efficient alternatives?
Energy Management Tips for Businesses
Once you have assessed your businesses energy usage, you can begin to plan for improved energy management and begin lowering your power consumption.
The main categories of a business’ energy usage are: energy source, lighting, temperature control, and devices.
- Tip # 1: Switch to clean energy – The most significant change you can make is switching to a green energy source. Installing solar panels or using hydro or wind energy means the energy you use is renewable and has less of an environmental impact. Working with companies that operate based on green energy is a good way to promote green energy usage if you cannot make the switch. Renewable energy is the most effective way to combat climate change caused by energy usage.
- Tip #2: Turn off lights when not in use – Mandate that the last person leaving a room or the building turns off the lights as they exit. Installing automatic lights ensures lights will turn off when not needed.
- Tip #3: Replace old/inefficient lighting – Older lights use more power to generate the same amount of light. By swapping them for newer and more efficient lighting you can reduce the energy required to keep your building adequately lit.
- Tip #4: Use compact fluorescent bulbs when possible – Compact fluorescent bulbs are more energy efficient than normal bulbs as well as smaller, longer lasting, easier to maintain, and radiate less heat.
- Tip #5: Replace T-12 bulbs with T-8 bulbs – T-8 bulbs are more energy efficient, brighter, and stay brighter throughout their life than T-12 bulbs.
- Tip #6:Use LEDs for exit signs – LEDs save 78-95% of exit sign energy usage. They also are more health-conscious, not containing mercury, and environmentally friendly, lasting at least 10 years.
- Tip #8: Use blinds to reduce sunlight when it is hot – This keeps your building colder, reducing the burden on the AC unit.
- Tip #9: Use fans – Fans can make the same temperature feel a few degrees colder when pushing air around in the office. They can also be used to bring in air from outside if the temperature is more comfortable outdoors.
- Tip #10: Maintain your HVAC system – Change and clean air filters monthly, clean heat exchanger surfaces, and repair or replace defective equipment quickly to ensure it is running as efficiently as possible.
- Tip #11: Use Efficient HVAC – When purchasing new HVAC units look for a high Energy Efficiency Ratio(above 8.5). Additionally look for ENERGY STAR units which are more efficient and environmentally friendly.
- Tip #12: Keep temperature close to the outside temp – Set thermostats as low as possible in the winter and as high as possible in the summer to minimize work done by heating and cooling. Allowing for a more casual dress code will keep employees more comfortable in different temperatures.
- Tip #13: Limit heating and cooling during off times – Setting thermostats a few degrees higher or lower during unoccupied times prevents unnecessary power consumption. Use programmable thermostats to automatically adjust the temperature based on the time and day of the week and save the most power possible.
- Tip #14: Buy ENERGY STAR devices – When replacing office equipment such as printers and computers look for the ENERGY STAR label which indicates energy efficiency. Ask your vending machine provider for ENERGY STAR vending machines as they save up to 50% energy over older vending machines.
- Tip #15: Unplug electronic devices – Unplug your computers, monitors, printers, and other devices at night or when not in use during the day. These devices will waste energy even if they are turned off. You can use smart power strips to do this automatically.
- Tip #16: Use power saving computer settings – Use low power mode on computers and set them to sleep or turn off after a few minutes of inactivity.
- Tip #17: Use Laptops – Use laptops instead of desktop computers as they are designed to be more energy efficient.
- Tip #18: Clean out refrigerators – Cleaning out and maintaining refrigerators can significantly improve their energy efficiency.
Reducing energy consumption combats climate change and saves money. Finding ways to save power while minimizing the effect on your business’s operations can be difficult in the short term, but it saves money and improves your brand in the long run.
Being a more sustainable business, starting with energy efficiency, will help attract customers, employees, and investors looking for an ethical company. Consider using a service such as the Green Business Bureau to begin seriously improving your businesses sustainability practices. Tools such as the Carbon Footprint Calculator make evaluating and finding weaknesses, including your business’s power usage and overall environmental impact, as easy as possible.
John is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in information systems and business analytics with a minor in computer science at Indiana University in Bloomington. He enjoys learning about technology, business strategy, and sustainability, and then applying his knowledge in real-life situations. In his free time, he enjoys working out, hiking, and spending time with friends.