How to Save Money on Energy Bills
Apparently New York City is about to get hit with a double-whammy: a hot summer and rising electricity rates. According to the 2014 Farmer’s Almanac, NYC is in for an exceptionally hot and humid summer. On top of that, you’ll see a rise in electricity prices. According to Con Edison, a typical business customer can expect average summer bills to rise between 4 and 5 percent.
There’s not much you can do about the weather (except maybe a rain dance) but there’s an easy thing you can do about your energy bill: USE LESS. It stands to reason that decreased consumption lowers your cost. But you may not realize that trimming usage also helps lower rates. It’s simple economics: higher demand means higher rates, and lowering demand by decreasing usage results in lower rates.
Here are 15 top tips that can result in real energy savings this summer:
1. Replace air conditioner filters monthly.
Do you see that brown haze hanging over the city on a hot day? Your a/c filters are keeping that smog and dust out of your building, but it’s clogging them up and making your unit work harder and use more electricity.
2. Turn up the thermostat a touch.
In summer, keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees when your building is occupied. According to ConEd, turning it down to 75 degrees costs 18% more, and 72 degrees costs 39 percent more!
3. Turn it up more when the building is unoccupied.
Use a programmable thermostat or building automation system to raise the temperature setting to 85 degrees at night or when your building is unoccupied. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 1% energy savings can be achieved for each degree you turn up the temperature for an 8 hour period every day. If you adjust from 78 degrees to 85 degrees for 8 hours a day, you can save 7% on your utility bills. Don’t have a programmable thermostat? You may qualify for Con Edison’s offer for a free one: go to www.conEd.com/cool or call 1-866-521-8600.
4. Use fans to supplement air conditioning.
The cooling effect of moving air can make building occupants more comfortable than a lower temperature setting, and fans use much less electricity than your air conditioner.
5. Check your building’s insulation.
Adding more insulation with a high R-value can keep that expensive cooled air from escaping from your building.
6. Seal leaks that allow cool air to escape.
Use caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around doors, windows and other openings. Don’t forget any holes or cracks around pipes and wiring coming through the ceiling.
7. Conduct an energy audit.
With a simple walk-through of your building, you can spot many energy-wasting problems on your own. Learn how at www.eere.energy.gov.
8. Power-down office equipment when not in use.
Computers, copiers and other electronic equipment use a great deal of electricity, and also generate heat that makes your a/c work harder.
9. Install economizers.
If the temperature outside is low enough to provide comfortable air, an economizer draws air in from outside instead of running the a/c and running up your electric bill.
10. Clean up.
Removing leaves and debris from around your outdoor or rooftop air conditioning unit prevents dirt from clogging up your system and making it lose efficiency.
11. Use timers and motion detectors on lights.
In most cases, you don’t need lights when no one is in the building. Controlling indoor and outdoor lighting with timers and motion detectors can significantly cut down on waste.
12. Keep airflow paths clear.
Your air conditioner can cool your space more effectively and efficiently if the ducts and vents are not blocked by furniture and clutter.
13. Cover east, west and south facing windows.
Keeping out the summer sun means your a/c unit doesn’t have to compensate for unwanted heat.
14. Upgrade to Energy Star appliances.
If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, a newer Energy Star model will pay for itself in energy savings in a surprisingly short period of time. Also, if you’re planning to replace any doors or windows, look for the Energy Star label on those as well.
15. Don’t forget regular HVAC maintenance.
Did you realize that your HVAC system consumes half of the energy used in your building? Regular cleaning and maintenance of cooling and heating equipment can have a major impact on your energy expenses. Call in a certified HVAC service company like Arista to change filters, clean coils, seal ducts, check electrical connections and blower motors for optimal efficiency. BONUS: regular preventative maintenance also makes it much less likely that your unit will fail during a heat wave!
It can’t hurt to try the rain dance, but the tips listed here (especially the last one!) are proven, effective strategies to reduce your energy expenses this summer.
Curious about how HVAC maintenance can save you money? Grab a copy of our guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.