It’s almost impossible to go online, turn on the TV, or open a magazine, without running across tips on how to conserve energy at home. But what about in the workplace? If you don’t work remotely, you’re apt to spend more time during the day at work than you do at home. And if you’re a business owner, you’re in business to make money. But the more you spend on utilities, the less you take home at the end of the day — not to mention the effect that all that power consumption has on the environment. So, take advantage of our energy saving tips below, which were put together with businesses in mind. Who knows? What you do may help your bottom line, while making small steps toward saving the planet.
Consider an energy audit to make improvements overall to your building.
You may need to spend some money upfront to update your workplace with energy-efficient upgrades, but it can save you cash in the long run. Not sure where to begin? You may like to enlist the help of a commercial energy auditor. This professional can make suggestions and conduct various types of audits, whether just providing you with some ideas about energy efficiency— or conducting a thorough walkthrough of your space. From there, an auditor can generate an analysis after pinpointing areas that would benefit from enhancements.
What are some of the improvements you can make to increase energy efficiency at your place of business?
PRODUCE YOUR OWN POWER.
If your business is in a larger facility that can accommodate a solar panel setup, then you may want to consider generating your own power. Solar panels can greatly reduce your dependence on the utility company. Business owners should also explore the tax benefits for switching to solar power. The U.S. Department of Energy website breaks down the tax credits available for solar panel installations. Business owners, non-profits, local tribal governments, and similar entities with businesses in buildings separate from a residence, can also explore investment tax credits (ITC) for the cost of installing a solar energy system or a production tax credit (PTC) for electricity generated from their system. ITC components include solar panels, inverters, step-up transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, and more. Some other taxable income could include revenue from the sale of renewable energy certificates, depreciation deductions, state and local tax credits and exemptions, and more.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NATURAL LIGHT.
Even though sunlight can sometimes have the unwanted effect of raising temperatures in your facility, you can also turn it into a natural advantage. Having an office or shop that is flooded with natural light can reduce the amount of electricity that’s needed to power artificial lighting. Sunlight during winter months may also cut down on heating costs.
USE ENERGY EFFICIENT WINDOWS AND WINDOW FILMS TO HELP LOWER COOLING COSTS.
Windows that increase energy efficiency because of their materials, can help to better regulate interior temperatures year-round in all climates. On the other hand, if your business is located somewhere with a hot, sunny climate, UV-filtering tinted window films can help to greatly cut down on cooling costs. By reducing the amount of intense sunlight that enters through your building’s windows, you automatically keep interior temperature from rising. Some temperature control window films can reduce heat from the sun in spaces by 80% , from blocking 99% of UV rays. You are likely to save on cooling costs — and heating costs in cooler months — after applying it.
CHECK YOUR INSULATION PLUS CAULK AND WEATHER STRIPPING ON DOORS AND WINDOWS.
Insulation can keep warmer temperatures in during the colder months and cooler temperatures within your space during warmer months, with less energy expended to heat or cool your workspace. One of the other simplest ways to increase the energy efficiency of your business is to make sure all your facility’s windows and doors are well-caulked and equipped with weather stripping. By covering up air-leaking cracks and gaps, you can reduce heating and air conditioning needs, ensuring that warm air stays in during the winter — and out during the summer.
CHOOSE PROGRAMMABLE OR SMART THERMOSTATS.
A couple of efficient ways to heat or cool down an office space is with a programmable or smart thermostat. When temperatures are consistent, it helps to maintain energy costs. Programmable ones enable a business owner to adjust temperatures to a comfortable zone during working hours, scaling them back when a workplace is closed. The intuitive smart thermostats work similarly but are “intuitive” because they are considered “learning” thermostat. This type of controller becomes familiar with the routines of those occupying the space, through Wi-Fi technology; and can raise or lower it based on a variety of factors. They can also sense the temperature in a space and if it becomes too hot or cold, can adjust accordingly.
SWITCH TO ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHT FIXTURES.
Many businesses already use overhead fluorescent lighting, but if you’re still using incandescent or halogen bulbs in lamps and specialty fixtures, it’s time to make a change. Switching to light emitting diode (LED) illumination not only lowers your electricity bill, but also reduces the number of light bulbs you’ll buy. LEDs are said to last up to 35% longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
SWAP OUT REGULAR LIGHT SWITCHES FOR DIMMERS.
Lighting can be a significant power waster, especially in offices and other places of business, where overhead lights blaze from 9 to 5 — and beyond. Using dimmers to lower light levels, even slightly, not only conserves energy and cuts down on electric bills, but also extends the lifespan of your light bulbs. Dimming lights by just 10% results in a barely perceptible change to the human eye but can double the life expectancy of light bulbs.
GET OCCUPANCY SENSORS TO TURN OFF THE LIGHTS EVEN WHEN YOUR EMPLOYEES DON’T.
People are always forgetting to turn the lights off at home, so why would they remember to at work? While you should always urge employees and coworkers to turn off the lights when leaving a room or going home for the night, you can guarantee that happens with a simple little device called an occupancy sensor. Otherwise known as motion detectors or motion sensors, these energy-saving wonders can turn the lights on when they sense movement in a room, shutting them off when they don’t.
RUN OUTDOOR LIGHTS ON TIMERS.
Whether you need to worry more about trip-and-fall accidents or break-ins, adequate outdoor lighting is crucial to the safety of your employees and premises. This is especially true for retail stores, restaurants, and any other facility that has a back door that’s used for deliveries and trash removal, or as an exit after dark. But outdoor lights have a habit of being left on far after the sun comes up — a practice that wastes both electricity and money.
To make sure that security lights are on when they’re needed but not wasting energy, connect them to an outdoor photocell-equipped timer. Because they’re able to sense ambient light levels, these timers can switch outdoor lights on at sunset, and shut them off as soon as daylight returns.
PLUG INTO SMART SURGE PROTECTORS.
Ever heard of “vampire electronics?” They’re devices that continue to draw small amounts of power even when they’re not in use — and offices are full of them. Think computer monitors, printers, speakers, and anything else that goes into standby mode. Even a glowing LED draws power when an item is turned off. Employees should be instructed to power down computers at the end of the day to lower electricity use but how about the vampire peripherals that stay up all night, continuing to suck power while you sleep?
Some surge protectors can help save energy because you can cut the power on all the devices at once with just a push of one button. CableOrganizer® has an array of surge protectors and power strips that are energy-saving types. The Smart Strip Advanced Power Strips are an option that uses 1 watt of stand-by current draw. The 7-Outlet Surge Protector with Individual Switches challenges energy vampires with individual switches that let you turn off specific electronics, while protecting against power spikes, although all can be shut down simultaneously with the one main switch. This one can be combined with a power strip liberator to help control AC adapter energy consumption too.
Another type of surge protector is the uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which continues to deliver power to equipment temporarily during a power outage. Tripp-Lite Energy Savings ECO Series UPS System is one, which offers blackout, brownout, and surge protection, with green energy technology. There are built-in outlets that turn off computers, printers, speakers, and other peripheral devices, when they’re not in use. The Tripp-Lite ECO-UPS System with LCD Screen conserves electricity on three of its power outlets, cutting the power three minutes after a device goes into sleep mode or shuts down. Need a smaller UPS? The Tripp-Lite 1-Outlet Surge Protector plugs right into an outlet and lets you quickly turn off the item, or time it to turn off with a simple timer that can be set for 1, 3, or 6 hours.
CHOOSE ENERGY EFFICIENT EQUIPMENT FROM ENERGY STAR®.
When you choose electrical items, electronics, appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, computers, audio and video equipment, phone systems, printers, scanners, mailing machines, and more, it’s wise to select an item with the Energy Star® seal. The program was launched in 1992 to advocate for energy-efficient lighting but has since expanded to a vast range of categories.