Making your business more energy-efficient
You’ll find many articles and fact sheets on how to save energy at home, but what about lowering the costs in your business? Today, electricity accounts for about 40 percent of total energy use in a typical business. Want to save some money and boost profitability? Take a look at the advice and tips below.
Heating and Cooling
- Heating and cooling comprise 40 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings.
- Make sure your equipment is properly sized. The most efficient sizing will require the heating system to run constantly at full load on the coldest day that the building is designed to handle.
- Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat between the building and the ground. Although they cost more to install, geothermal heat pumps have low operating costs. If the building is located near a body of water, such as a pond or lake, water-source heat pumps can offer similar advantages.
- The heat pipe, originally developed by NASA to cool spacecraft, lowers an air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-10 percent by improving its ability to dehumidify the air.
- Variable speed motors and compressors. Instead of always operating at full power, heat pumps and air conditioners can now operate at various speeds—slow, medium or fast, or any speed in between—thereby closely matching energy use to temperature fluctuation.
- Water heating comprises seven percent of the energy used in commercial buildings.
- Faucet aerators should be installed in restrooms, and low-flow showerheads should be installed in any on-site shower facilities.
- Horizontal-axis (front-loading) washing machines can provide significant water savings for institutions with laundries; models with high-speed spin cycles will also save on the cost of clothes drying.
- Low-water-use dishwashing equipment is also available for institutions that have cafeterias on site.
- A heat pump water heater takes the free heat being exhausted by air conditioners, ice makers, or above a cooking line, and then amplifies it to make cheap hot water. It also returns a moderate amount of free air conditioning as a by-product.
Monitoring Lighting Usage
- Lighting comprises 31 percent of the electrical load in commercial buildings.
- Compact fluorescent lights use only 25 percent of the electricity used by incandescent lights, and last up to 10 times as long.
- Electronic ballasts increase fluorescent lamp efficiency by up to 25 percent and increase light output by 10-15 percent.
Make the Most of Office Equipment
Office equipment accounts for 16 percent of an office’s energy use. The use of computers, printers, copiers and fax machines adds up, but simply turning your computer’s sleep mode on when you’re not using it can save energy (screen savers are energy wasters, not savers).
In addition to putting your computer to sleep when you are away:
- Turn the machine off when you leave the office for the night
- Activate sleep mode for printers, copiers and fax machines so they’ll sense inactive periods
- Consider consolidating these machines by purchasing a machine that performs multiple office functions.
If you’re looking to purchase new office equipment, look for ENERGY STAR qualified products to cut down energy use and pollution.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy