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Saving Money With Better Energy Efficiency

The need to conserve energy (i.e. money) is just as important as it has always been. The tips in this Quick-Read Solution can help.

OVERVIEW [top]

It doesn’t make sense to throw money out the window, but many companies are doing just that. Drafts from windowpanes and loss of heat through exposed glass in winter make inefficient windows just one of the notorious culprits leading to energy loss and needless expense. Taking the time to complete an inventory of your business’s energy efficiency could save you thousands of dollars each year and make a sizable contribution toward saving the environment. Government agencies like the EPA or your local utility companies may even offer incentive programs or free evaluations to help you get started.

In this Quick-Read, you will find:

  • Suggestions for improving your business’s energy efficiency.
  • Where to look for cash incentive programs to help fund energy-saving improvements.

SOLUTION [top]

A quick tour of your office or plant could unveil several sources of energy loss.

Physical attributes

  1. Natural light. When selecting an office building or refitting your existing space, incorporate natural light. Exposure to daylight can reduce lighting and heating costs. Studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute and others also have demonstrated a correlation between increased employee productivity and natural light in offices (“Boosting Productivity with IEQ Improvements,”Building Design & Construction, April 1997). Think about adding skylights or the newer solar tubes.
  2. Window coverings. In the winter, close curtains and blinds when the office is closed or a room is unoccupied to retain heat. On warm days, window coverings prevent heat gain.
  3. Drafts and cracks. Check for drafts coming in through windows and doors. Such drafts can usually be prevented using caulking and weather stripping, an inexpensive solution that will save you money on your heating bill instantly. Also look for cracks where the walls meet the foundation, around room air conditioners, and openings where piping and telephone lines enter the building.
  4. Internal offices. Install ceilings on internal offices, not just partitions, to stop warm air from escaping as it rises.
  5. Insulate. Roof insulation will also reduce heat loss.
  6. Loading area doors. Add a relay switch to your heating system that will turn off the heat when the loading doors are open. Add frequent checking of the weather seals around overhead doors to the maintenance schedule; they are notorious for creeping out of alignment and permitting air leaks.
  7. Electrical switches. Label electrical switches to identify which ones need to be left on:
    • at all times
    • during business hours
    • during occupancy only

Office equipment

  1. Power. Cut your electrical bill and reduce fan noise and heat generation by turning off computers and machines when they are not being used, especially overnight and on weekends. If your computer must be left on at all times, turn off the monitor. Monitors consume approximately 75% of the total energy required to operate a computer.
  2. E-mail. To save paper, ink and electricity, avoid printing e-mail.
  3. Fax. Use fax software that allows you to view faxes on your computer screen. Only print the faxes you really need.
  4. Photocopier. Turn off your copier at night or put a timer on the copier that will turn it off after regular business hours. Newer photocopiers have energy-efficient settings that will automatically put your copier on stand-by mode after a specified term of inactivity.
  5. Energy efficient machines. When your equipment needs to be replaced, choose an energy-saving model.

Manufacturing equipment

  1. Steam generation. According to the EPA, nearly half of all fuel burned by industry is for producing steam used in chemical, metal, glass and agricultural processes. Reduce waste by fixing steam leaks, insulating steam and condensation lines and installing high-efficiency boilers.
  2. Motors. The operational costs of motors are often higher per year than the purchase cost. Motors with variable speed drives can increase efficiency by using only enough power to complete the job at hand instead of running at full capacity all the time.
  3. Combined heat and power. CHP or co-generation systems harness the heat that’s a byproduct of electrical or mechanical production to use for process applications, decreasing both energy bills and pollution. Read more at the U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Energy Systems Web site.

Lighting

  1. Lights out. Lights should be turned off whenever an area is unoccupied. Post reminders next to light switches.
  2. Sensors. Install occupancy sensors in hallways, bathrooms and other low traffic areas where lights can be left off most of the time.
  3. Exit signs. Choose LED (Light Emitting Diode) exit signs. They have a longer life span and are very energy efficient.
  4. Maintenance. Keep lights and lamps clean. Accumulated dirt and dust can reduce light output by 30%.
  5. Replacement. The light output of a fluorescent lamp decreases as it ages even though it continues to consume the same amount of energy. Replace lamps regularly.
  6. Fluorescent lamps. Replace T-12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts with T-8 fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts. This newer technology reduces energy costs and improves light quality.
  7. Exterior lighting. Use timers or photocells for outdoor security and parking area lighting to turn lights on at dusk and off at dawn.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)

  1. Ceiling fans. If your building’s ceiling is higher than 10 feet, consider installing ceiling fans to force the warm air down to the occupied level.
  2. Thermostat. Lock your thermostat or instruct staff not to tamper with the settings. Employees commonly change temperature settings to suit their personal comfort levels. Consider switching to programmable thermostats that automatically adjust your building’s temperature at night and on the weekends.
  3. Have your HVAC technician balance heating and air conditioning units regularly to ensure they are operating evenly and at optimum levels throughout your office.

Hot water

  1. Water heater. Set your water heater equipment at a maximum of 60
Case Studies

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