After rent and payroll, the next biggest item in the budget of businesses is utilities.
You don’t want to invest a lot of time or money into energy-saving measures that look nice but do no good. Here are the top 10 ways your business can save energy, reduce your utility bills and help the planet.
Let There Be Light — But Not Too Much
You shouldn’t ask people to wander around in the dark. That’s a safety hazard. However, you can maximize natural light and minimize wasted light. For example, open the windows, if possible, turn off the overhead lights when there’s plenty of daylight. Use task lights if necessary. Train people to turn off lights when they leave the room or have occupancy sensors that do so automatically.
Invest in HVAC Maintenance
We could tell you to turn down the thermostat in the winter, but you’ll benefit more by investing in maintenance of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Replacing air filters every month or two will give you cleaner air and prevent the motors in the HVAC system from working harder than they have to. Cleaning out drains prevent mold and mildew growth. You’ll reduce your energy bills even if only the fans are running, and you’ll extend the life of the equipment.
Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances
It’s wasteful to throw out a five-year-old air conditioner or refrigerator to get a new, more efficient one. It’s like getting rid of a three-year-old car for one that is more fuel efficient because the cost of petrol went up 50%. Instead, plan to upgrade the equipment at the end of its life, then select the most energy efficient replacements. This is true all appliances.
Pick a Temperature and Stick to it
Set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature for the season, then leave it there. A constant thermostat “war” forces the HVAC system to turn on and off. That’s less efficient than warming it further in the winter or cooling it in the summer. This is why many thermostats have literal locking devices. Also look for energy efficient ways to make those who aren’t happy with it comfortable. Give them fans or cool drinks in summer and comfy sweatshirts or jackets in winter.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Another way to reduce HVAC costs is to install a programmable thermostat. Many of them are smart enough to analyze the temperatures you choose for various parts of the day before devising an energy efficient profile. Then the thermostat will turn on the heater or AC only when necessary to make the office comfortable when everyone is expected to arrive.
When in Doubt, Turn it Off
Turning electronics on and off doesn’t harm them or waste energy the way it used to. Furthermore, letting devices go into standby mode doesn’t reduce their energy usage that much. Turn off computers, laptops, copiers and other equipment when not in use.
Turn on Energy Management Settings
A surprising number of appliances and smart devices have energy management settings. It’s obvious when the computer monitor shows a screen saver or a smart device goes into standby. Yet this same feature may be available on industrial equipment and office equipment. A side benefit of enabling this is that you won’t have to worry about whether or not someone who comes in late to work turns everything off before leaving.
You could also save energy by switching energy providers. You could select a local power provider, so less energy is lost when it is sent over the power lines. You could also save energy by going with a utility company that performs energy audits or gives you industry specific advice on saving energy. To do an energy comparison visit iSelect.
There are several variations of this advice. One is cleaning windows and blinds so that you receive more natural light through them. Another form is cleaning the coils and heat exchangers on air conditioners and refrigerators so that they’re more efficient. Even cleaning computer monitors may allow people to see their work without having the screen on the brightest setting.
Keep it Closed
We lose energy and money every time we let the air conditioned or heated air escape. Work to keep doors closed unless actually required to be open. In many businesses, this could be the loading dock doors as well as the front doors. And don’t let someone leave the refrigerator door or the entry to your freezer section open. If you have to leave entryways open, consider an air curtain to minimize how much dust and outside air gets in.