Energy Saving Ideas
Energy Efficiency for Business
The following ideas can help your business or commercial building conserve energy and reduce costs.
- Always consider efficiency when purchasing new energy using equipment. Look for the Energy Star label. The incremental costs of energy efficiency may qualify for a business energy tax credit of 35% for new and existing structures.
- Avoid using incandescent lights when possible. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last several times longer. The use of efficient task lighting and less ceiling fixtures will save lighting energy
- Upgrade older fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts to T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts. Install occupancy sensors to control lighting in areas that are not used continuously.
- Change out 50-watt incandescent exit lights with 3 - 7 watt LED exit lights that last 25 years.
- Install timers on outside lighting to turn off at a selected time rather than burning all night long. Allow sufficient lighting for safety and security.
- Turn off all lights at night, including task and office lights. Check into scheduling janitorial hours to overlap some working hours. Lowering the total operating hours of a facility can be a great conservation measure.
- If staff require extra heat, use radiant electric heaters. Turn heater off when away from the desk. A 1,500-watt heater running continuously for 3,000 hours will use $205 if the cost is $0.0455 per kWh. (Space heaters should not be left on unattended.)
- Move work stations as far away from windows as possible. Windows draw heat from people in winter making them feel colder.
- Close blinds when not using a facility to cut down on heat loss. Open blinds for light and warmth on sunny days. In warm weather, close blinds to aid cooling.
- Have your pop vending machine operator turn off the advertising lighting in the machine. This will save between $50 and $110 per year, depending on your cost of electricity.
- Make sure the office copier is turned off at night. Large machines can use $100’s worth of energy keeping the copier’s heaters ready for use. New copiers with Energy Star features of low power standby are the best choice when replacing machines. Be sure the Energy Star features are activated. Fax machines come with power saver modes as well.
- Set hot water heaters at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid health risks associated with Legionnaire’s Disease never go below 115 degrees on potable water systems (Health Departments will require higher water temperatures for food services).
- Encourage the office to operate one up-to-date energy efficient refrigerator in a common break room area.
- Eliminate unnecessary hot plates, coffeepots, and other small appliances and turn off all tools, office machines and portable appliances when not in use.
- Verify outside air (OSA) dampers are closed during unoccupied hours, including morning warm-up periods. Fresh air is critical, but heating OSA when it is not needed increases energy costs. Typically 15 CFM of OSA/person is standard.
- Confirm the amount of outside air matches occupant load. An inexpensive improvement is CO2 or VOC sensors to match expensive outside air to occupant load.
- Be sure damper motors are operating properly.
- Confirm that the OSA economizer is functioning properly and using free cooling when OSA temperature is below about 65 degrees. Most buildings are in cooling when the outside air temperature is above 55 degrees. The core of buildings over 20,000 square feet are almost always in cooling, even during the winter heating season.
- Check to make sure exhaust fans are running only during occupied times. Check that dampers on exhaust fans close when the fan is not operating. Adjust fan belt tension.
- Inspect control schedules to heat only sections of the building as needed. For electric space heating, stagger start times to help reduce demand charges.
- Monitor stack temperatures on fossil fuel boilers. If the stack temperature is more than 400 degrees F above the boiler room temperature, schedule the boiler for a tune-up.
- Turn off circulation pumps during unoccupied times if no freeze conditions exist. Heat loss from poorly insulated pipes can be a major loss of energy. Check hot water insulation levels.
- Install controls to automatically reset hot and cold deck temperatures based on the space demand. (Usually inexpensive, controls can save 10% of space conditioning costs, and typically increases employee comfort).
- Verify that the building control system is going into night setback during unoccupied hours. Just because it’s a computer controlled system doesn’t mean it is working right!
- Make sure that simultaneous heating and cooling does not occur. Ensure that there is a minimum of a 5 degree “deadband” between heating and cooling thermostat setpoints.
- Confirm that your adjustable speed drives (ASD) are not running constantly at 100% speed. Most ASD’s have an output monitor to report percentage of operation. A motor running at 50% uses 1/8 the energy of a motor running at 100%!
- Ensure that heat pump thermostats have a “lockout” feature that prevents supplemental heat from coming on when it’s not needed.
Adapted from recommendations by the Washington State Dept. of General Administration, Facilities Engineering Services.