Businesses that maximize the energy efficiency of their facilities save money and help the environment. Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Agency’s energy efficiency program, reports that commercial buildings in the U.S. spend $107.9 billion annually on energy costs, and use energy unnecessarily or inefficiently 30 percent of the time. Energy Star estimates that reducing 10 percent of business energy would save $20 billion—the equivalent of emissions from almost 30 million vehicles.
There are plenty of easy ways to reduce business energy use for heating, air conditioning, and lighting and electricity—put these tips into practice and you’ll be on your way to becoming an environmentally friendly organization.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Paying close attention to the heating and air conditioning system in your office can help save energy and expenses. Keep equipment operating efficiently to save money and conserve energy. Use an annual maintenance contract that provides regular service to prepare for cooling and heating seasons, this will extend the life of the equipment, and prevent the need for emergency service calls.
Use these tips to keep HVAC use at top efficiency to save energy:
• Keep clean filters in HVAC equipment. This simple measure can improve indoor air quality and helps prevent clogging or overworking the equipment.
• Block direct heat gain with window shades, solar films, awnings, or strategically planted trees and shrubs. Sunlight coming in through large office windows concentrates the sun’s rays and heats the air, affecting the efficiency of air conditioning and interfering with balanced air temperature.
• Strategic use of indoor fans can delay the need to use air conditioning before it’s necessary, and fans help make the most of conditioned air when equipment is in use.
Lighting and Electricity
Computers, lights, alarm systems, some phone systems, office equipment, and production machinery all require electricity when in use. Businesses can maximize the efficiency and reduce energy use and expense by using Energy Star products with energy efficient designs and operation.
The EPA recommends managing office equipment energy use by powering down equipment at the end of the day, using power management features on computers, and plugging electrical cords into power strips to prevent energy drains, as well as turning off all lights and equipment at the end of the workday. The EPA estimates that using computer power management, where computers go into sleep mode when not in use, can save up to $50 per computer per year.
Consider using green power generated from renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Check the EPA’s Green Power Locator to see if green power is available in your area.
Office Depot’s recommendations to save energy and money on electricity include using compact fluorescent bulbs, and Energy Star qualified lights rather than incandescent bulbs. They last up to 10 times longer and save up to 75 percent on energy use. They also recommend using daylight rather than lights powered with electricity when possible.
Other Ways to Save
Save energy with a programmable thermostat that automatically regulates heating and air conditioning to cut costs when the business is closed. Prevent “temperature wars” by locking the thermostat, so only authorized staff have access and provide employees other ways to regulate the temperature in their areas, such as fans.
Raise awareness of energy use and engage employees in overall efforts to save energy and money. The Carbon Trust makes employee engagement easy with access to efficiency guides, savings advice, awareness campaign materials, and energy savings calculator.