As a business owner or someone who manages a building or office, you know all too well how energy consumption costs reduce your bottom line. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there is roughly a 33-percent waste of energy usage in the average building. Let’s begin to look at how to save energy in buildings and how to reduce energy consumption in buildings.
How to reduce energy consumption in buildings: 11 tips
- Energy audits
- HVAC maintenance
- Upgrade insulation
- Power down electronics
- VRF HVAC systems
- Smart building controls
- Retrofit older HVAC systems
- Window replacements
- LED lighting
- Upgrade appliances
- Correctly-sized HVAC equipment
Did you know that your HVAC system accounts for 50 to 60-percent of building energy costs? That’s why, when looking at how to reduce energy consumption in buildings, many of the most effective strategies involve making your HVAC more efficient. So, let’s take a more in depth look at the different components of how to save energy in buildings.
1. Do an energy audit
Perhaps the first step in finding out how to reduce energy consumption in buildings is to complete an energy audit. This is an advisable activity for both your business and your home. You can complete the audit yourself or hire a consultant to audit your energy usage.
A good place to start when trying to get a handle on your energy usage is to review your bills. Also, look at your service, repair and maintenance records. You should conduct a full inspection of your HVAC and lighting fixtures to determine overall condition and efficiency. You might find that you can reduce energy consumption by taking care of problems that cost nothing or next to nothing to solve such as moving furnishings that block vents.
2. HVAC maintenance: an easy way to save energy in buildings
Why is regular HVAC maintenance so important when considering how to shrink energy use in buildings? Regular visits from an HVAC professional make your system more efficient and help prevent costly repairs. Clogged filters, dirty ducts and coils, debris and dust laden vents and fatigued parts will make your system work harder and longer to get to set temperatures. If you have a preventative maintenance contract, an HVAC technician will thoroughly inspect and clean different parts of your system to ensure system efficiency.
To learn more about maintenance options, read our free guide: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.
3. Insulate to save energy
Adding insulation is another easy way to save energy. It’s fairly inexpensive. According to the EPA, you can save 10-percent of your energy bill by installing proper insulation and sealing your building. Don’t just look at the obvious places: windows and walls. It is important not to overlook pipes, HVAC ducts and electrical outlets.
4. Teach workers to turn off electronics
Well, we might sound like our parents, but that’s okay. Work places make up 50-percent of our country’s energy usage. So, it’s sensible to teach employees the importance of shutting off lights and equipment. Train employees how to save energy in buildings.
5. Choose new HVAC systems
When looking at how to save energy in buildings, consider a new type of air conditioner: a VRF system.
A VRF system is capable of supplying both heat and cooling. It can do both simultaneously to different locations in the same building. The system has small air handlers that you can control individually. The individual controls give you the opportunity to save money because heat and air conditioning can be turned down or off in unoccupied rooms while rooms in use can still be provided with heat and air.
6. How to reduce energy consumption in buildings? Choose smart building technology
The latest controls and programmable thermostats should be part of your strategy to reduce energy consumption. Doesn’t it make sense to reduce or turn off lighting, heat and air conditioning when your building is not in use? Smart building controls eliminate the human forgetfulness factor of failing to turn off or down lighting and HVAC settings.
7. Change your old HVAC system
A retrofit can be a stop-gap before you have to replace your system entirely. Retrofits, which can include replacing the system’s compressor, adding condenser fan controls, adding demand-controlled ventilation and adding air side economizers, can boost your comfort and reduce your energy bill. The Department of Energy has estimated that a retrofit can equate to an energy savings of up to 35 percent. That makes a retrofit an attractive option when you’re thinking about how to save energy in buildings.
Learn more: Commercial HVAC Retrofits Save Energy & More
8. Don’t throw money out the window
Your space might have old windows that are not airtight. Though new windows are a big investment, new windows can produce tremendous energy savings. Also, look at your windows when assessing how to save energy in buildings. Your old roof can also waste energy by leaking air conditioned and heated air.
9. LED lights can result in simple savings
Often businesses use up a lot of energy through lighting. According to the EPA, Energy Star-rated bulbs use 75-percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last up to 10 times longer.
10. Get energy efficient appliances
Your old office refrigerator, water cooler and vending machines use a lot of power. Replacing older models with newer energy-efficient ones will help you reduce energy use in buildings.
11. Get the right size HVAC system when figuring out how to reduce energy consumption in buildings
Are you are choosing a new HVAC system or replacing older building air conditioning? Don’t be tempted to get an overly robust system because bigger is not always better. The first thing you want to do is ensure that the load calculation is accurate. A properly-sized system is designed for your building. An oversized system can result in increased upfront, maintenance and energy costs.
BONUS TIP: When choosing an HVAC system be sure to look at energy ratings. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) calculates the energy efficiency of air conditioners based on a seasonal temperature average. Today’s more efficient systems have ratings as high as 21, while older models may be rated between a 5 and 10. What does this mean to your wallet? A system with a 16 SEER rating costs roughly half to operate as a system with a SEER rating of 8.