No matter what kind of business or commercial enterprise you’re in, chances are there’s an office environment that serves as the hub of your operations. It takes an office setting to accomplish everything from planning to accounting to marketing. But have you thought about how energy is used in your office? Don’t fall for these common myths and miss out on opportunities to improve energy efficiency there.
Myth: We don’t spend much money to light our office, so there aren’t significant savings to be gained from improving lighting efficiency.
Fact: Ah, lighting. That most basic of needs often gets taken for granted, so much so that we seldom recognize the substantial amount of power — and cost — needed to keep it going. Contrary to common belief, at an estimated cost of $38 billion a year, lighting represents the largest source of electricity consumption in U.S. commercial buildings (Source: U.S. Department of Energy).
Many types of lighting upgrades can improve efficiency and generate long-term savings. Energy-efficient lighting can also lead to increased productivity, reduced maintenance costs and improved safety. They’re typically among the easiest types of efficiency projects to take on, and are known for short paybacks.
LED technology has advanced rapidly in recent years. Competitively priced, quality LED products are available in the market for many commonly used applications, including troffer fixtures, recessed cans, accent lighting, not to mention parking garage and outdoor lighting. Many businesses are now transitioning to LEDs to benefit from the technology’s greater efficiency, longer life span, reduced heat, quality of light and improved aesthetics.
If you’re not ready to make the switch to LEDs, replacing existing fluorescents with low-wattage T8 lamps and electronic ballasts can reduce your lighting energy consumption by 35% or more (Source: E Source Companies, LLC). You can also consider removing unnecessary lights or adding occupancy sensors in hallways, offices, restrooms and storage spaces.
Myth: We just don’t have the budget to purchase a new, efficient furnace or boiler right now. So, there’s really nothing we can do to reduce heating-related energy costs.
Fact: Don’t despair if there simply isn’t a high-efficiency furnace or boiler in your immediate future. There are many steps you can take today to get maximum performance out of your current system. Making sure that your HVAC systems are regularly cleaned and serviced can help prevent costly heating bills. To ensure your system is running efficiently, be sure you are getting boiler tune-ups, replacing worn pipe insulation and repairing steam traps. These steps can drive down the cost of operating your existing system.
Myth: The advice to “turn off lights and computers” is old fashioned and outdated, and doesn’t yield much savings. We don’t ask employees to turn off equipment in our office.
Fact: Turning off equipment when it’s not being used is actually an important step to keep in mind, because when it’s done consistently, the savings can really add up. For every 1,000 kWh that you save by turning things off, you can save about $100 on your utility bill (Source: E Source Companies, LLC). You can even automate the process by adding occupancy sensors and controls that turn off lights and HVAC systems in rooms when they’re not being used.
According to ENERGY STAR®, you can save up to $50 annually per computer, just by activating sleep settings. Computer power management (CPM) features can be set to automatically place computers into a low-power “sleep mode” after a period of inactivity. Simply touching the mouse or keyboard “wakes” the computer in seconds. Your network administrator can activate these settings quickly and easily across your entire network.
If some equipment can’t be turned off entirely, turning it down to minimum levels when possible can save energy. You can use controls to automatically set back the HVAC temperature during closed hours and make sure that stockrooms and rarely used rooms are at minimum settings.
Myth: There’s no reason to think about cooling costs now. At this time of year, we won’t need our cooling system for months, so we can ignore it for the time being.
Fact: Winter can be the best time to plan for the replacement of an aging cooling system. If your cooling system is outdated, it’s likely to draw a significant amount of energy during the summer months, and contribute to ongoing, expensive repair bills. Cut down your cooling costs by installing a high-efficiency DX unit, PTAC or chiller, and set up savings for the long term. Some installers offer advantageous off-season pricing and flexible installation schedules during the winter months. Consider increasing the efficiency of your existing system as well, by adding economizers, energy recovery ventilators, as well as heat exchangers and heat pumps.
For information about energy efficiency programs and resources to help you improve efficiency in your business, visit xcelenergy.com/Business.