You may have heard that energy experts attribute 50 to 60-percent of energy costs to your HVAC system’s operation. Like most facilities managers, you’d like to save on your energy bill without spending a bundle on equipment upgrades. The good news is: there are lots of simple, inexpensive ways to save energy. Let’s look at ways to save energy by reducing energy consumption.
Energy audits help facility managers maintain energy efficient buildings
It usually makes sense to start at the beginning. So, the first thing to do when exploring ways to save energy is: initiate an energy audit. You can do this on your own or can hire a consultant to find ways to save energy usage at your building.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, start your audit with a bill review. Look at bills for the entire year and check for peak usage and other energy usage patterns to determine ways for reducing energy consumption. Look at your maintenance and repair records to see how stepped-up maintenance and replacing energy-draining equipment will lower energy costs. Conduct a full inspection of HVAC equipment and lighting fixtures to establish overall condition and operational efficiency.
Energy conservation tips: cost-efficient ways to save energy
1. Improve insulation to save plenty
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to save energy is to repair or replace any compromised insulation. Did you know the federal EPA estimates you can save 10 to 20-percent on your energy bill by sealing air leaks? By getting rid of drafts, you’ll provide a more comfortable work environment for your employees, which is conducive to greater productivity.
2. Switch to LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting and save money
Changing to energy efficient lighting is a simple energy conservation measure that you can’t afford to overlook when researching ways to save energy. Replacing incandescent lights with LED lights is also a relatively low-cost improvement.
According to the EPA, Energy Star rated LED bulbs use a whopping 75-percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Count all the bulbs in the building and you’ll see that you’re in for a substantial savings just by changing bulbs.
3. Invest in energy-efficient appliances
When exploring ways to save energy, don’t forego looking at appliances. Your cafeteria’s refrigerator, water cooler and other devices chew up electricity. If you have older kitchen equipment, consider changing to Energy Star rated appliances. If your building has a commercial cafeteria, you need to be mindful of how your cafeteria operation might be wasting significant energy.
At some businesses, the commercial kitchen is the most energy-intense part of the operation. Reviewing procedures such as not leaving refrigeration and oven doors open, not preheating an oven too early and shutting ovens off when not cooking will save money. According to facilities.net, companies could save $1,450 annually just by shutting off a mid-sized fryer three additional hours daily.
4. Tweak energy-guzzling vending machines
When considering ways to save energy, don’t dismiss any potential savings because even the little things add up. Take vending machines, for instance. According to Madison Gas & Electric, it costs between $300 and $500 annually to run a refrigerated vending machine. The Wisconsin-based gas company detected that vending machine maintenance and reducing temperatures during late-night and off-hours leads to sizable savings.
Furthermore, the utility company found occupancy sensors, which cut power to vending machines after the room was empty for 15 minutes, resulted in a 24 to 76-percent depending on usage patterns.
5. Establish a work culture where finding ways to save energy is a priority for employees
Your employees can be a great asset in effectuating ways to save energy. Conduct energy conservation training. Shutting off lights and computers when departing translates into significant energy and money savings.
6. How to save energy: additional tips
Here are a few more small things you can do that do not require a lot of money to effectuate, but might entail a little sweat equity.
- Vacuum dusty vents and registers.
- Do not block vents and registers with furniture, rugs, drapes or wall-hangings.
- Change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
- Do not place heat-generating appliances next to thermostats.
- Have your HVAC ducts cleaned.
- Have your AC coils cleaned.
7. Our top tip: Maintain & improve your HVAC system
If your HVAC system accounts for 50 to 60-percent of your building’s energy costs, making HVAC system upgrades and boosting maintenance are undeniably two top ways to save energy at your building.
Upgrades. If replacing your old system is out of the question, you can still curtail energy usage by making a smaller investment in HVAC upgrades. These improvements include the installation of smart thermostats and other programmable controls that will shut off lighting and HVAC when buildings are unoccupied. Consider retrofitting your system with energy savings elements such as a new compressor, air- side economizers, demand-controlled ventilation and condenser fan controls.
Maintenance. When you’re looking to save energy, there is no substitution for preventative maintenance. Your service technician will change filters, clean coils, check refrigerant levels and the list goes on and on. Even if one part of your system is slightly off, energy usage and your utility bills can surge.
How is neglecting routine HVAC maintenance hurting your business? Get our free guide: Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.