Small businesses across the US spend $60 billion on energy every year. While it’s understandable that workplaces full of people would need a lot of energy for lighting, heating, and powering devices, a lot of the energy companies pay for goes to waste. Luckily, they are ways to cut these commercial electricity costs – and all without sacrificing quality, service, or comfort.
Learning how to save electricity doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. Sure, you can invest in energy-efficient equipment to save money in the long run. But your business can also make big savings on electricity bills just by changing the way you and your employees use energy throughout the workplace.
Read on to find out how to lower electricity costs for your business.
1. Get an Energy Audit
Before you make any changes, contact your local utility company to ask about an energy audit. As well as often being a free service, these audits provide invaluable personalized advice for saving money on your electricity bill.
An energy audit will let you know your baseline energy use while also suggesting ways to cut this use down. Even if you’ve already taken steps to cut energy use, this professional service can still be an eye-opening experience.
For example, thanks to specialized equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, these professionals will be able to pinpoint air leaks and areas of insufficient insulation.
2. Reprogram Your Thermostat
It might surprise you to learn how much energy you can save by making even a slight adjustment to your thermostat temperature. In fact, increasing your summer thermostat setting by one degree can save around 3 percent on cooling costs.
Even if your team keeps varying hours, reprogramming the thermostat to manage your workplace’s temperature during ‘off’ hours can make a big difference to your electricity bills.
To save money while maintaining a comfortable working environment, set your office thermostat between 65 and 68 degrees during business hours in winter. Between 60 and 65 degrees is ideal for unoccupied hours. In summer, set your thermostat to between 78 and 80 degrees during business hours and over 80 for unoccupied times.
3. Buy Energy-Efficient Equipment
Before replacing your current equipment with new or leased electronics, make sure that they’re rated as energy-efficient.
Usually, you’ll see a tag or label on an appliance to certify that it’s energy-efficient so make sure to look for this before you make the switch.
Exact energy savings can vary depending on the equipment in question, but energy-efficient rated appliances use 10 to 50 percent less electricity than their non-rated counterparts. As such, the more appliances you replace with energy-efficient equipment, the more you’ll save on commercial electricity costs.
4. Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
One of the biggest electricity for businesses expenses is lighting. But it’s also one of the easiest areas to save money. By simply swapping regular light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs such as LED or CFL, you’ll save a significant amount on electricity costs. LEDs use around a tenth of the wattage and last about 50 times longer than regular bulbs.
Of course, commercial lighting isn’t always as easy to change as household lighting. This is why it pays to contact Suncoast Energy to ensure your commercial lighting upgrade is as professional as it is efficient.
5. Reduce Peak Demand Times
Wondering how to lower electricity use in your office? One of the best ways is to reduce your workplace’s peak demand.
Peak demand refers to the daily hours when energy use is highest, which in most cases is between 9 am and 5 pm. Your company can reduce demand during this time by staggering working hours or start times. This way there will be a few hours at the beginning and end of the working day when your commercial electricity use is lower.
Other ways to reduce peak demand are to run heavy equipment during the evening and early morning, as well as taking steps to conserve energy throughout the core hours of the working day.
6. Turn Off Lights and Equipment
While we’re on the subject of conserving energy, turning off lights and equipment when they’re not in use can have a huge effect on how much power your workplace consumes.
It’s typical in office environments to leave on lights in bathrooms, conference rooms, and break rooms even when these spaces are unoccupied. Encourage workers to turn the lights off in these areas when they leave or install sensor lights.
The same goes for computers and other office equipment. Any electronics that you can switch off whenever your team isn’t working should be powered down at the end of the day. Get your employees into the habit of shutting down their devices before they leave. You should also turn off appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, and other non-office equipment.
To make things easier, use shared power strips where possible. This way you’ll be able to turn off the kitchen equipment with one button, while the flick of a switch in the office will turn off all the printers, fax machines, and other devices.
7. Take Advantage of Nature
Before you resort to artificial lights, cooling systems, and heating, consider how to use nature to your advantage.
For example, if your office space has an abundance of natural light, use it! Often, the first workers in the office will turn on the lights automatically, but once the sun is up, natural sunlight can be more than enough to illuminate the office for at least a few hours of the day.
You should also encourage workers to open windows for cooling before resorting to air conditioning. In spring and autumn, the breeze from an open window is often enough to cool the room. And, depending on where you’re located, an open window may be enough to cool your office in the summer during the early morning and evening hours.
In winter, leaving the blinds up will help warm your office while also providing some natural light. However, in summer you’ll want to close the blinds to keep the heat of the sun out so that your air conditioning system can cool the room better.
8. Establish an HVAC Maintenance Program
The heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system at your workplace is one of the biggest electricity draws. Extreme temperatures at either end of the scale mean that your hard-working system will need even more power. But, regular maintenance will help make sure that your HVAC system runs smoother.
On a day-to-day basis, leave the vents open to maximize airflow. Some people believe that closing the vents saves money but this is a myth, so leave them open all the time.
Once a month, make sure to clean or change air filters. Cleaner filters ensure better air intake, meaning a more efficient cooling system. You should also clean all refrigerant and water coils, condensers, evaporators, and heat exchange surfaces on a regular basis.
Make a point of checking coils, air ducts, piping, and other fittings and either repair or replace any defective or damaged equipment within the system.
9. Make Use of Fans
While fans are unsuitable as a replacement for air conditioning in many regions of the US, you can use them to work alongside your main cooling unit.
Installing ceiling fans and running them counterclockwise will help circulate the cold air from the air conditioning. This way your office will keep cool without the need to turn the AC down when the temperatures soar.
Also, if there are times that only one or two workers are in the office, using fans could be more cost-effective than turning on the whole AC system. And, since fans cool the person rather than the room, making a few personal fans available could be a suitable solution for when workers have different temperature preferences.
10. Strategize Seating Plans
One way to keep your worker’s happy while also saving money on your electricity bill is to consider their personal comfort and working hours when devising seating arrangements.
For example, team members who feel the heat more might prefer to sit closer to the air conditioning vents. Likewise, workers who tend to feel the cold more might prefer to sit further away from the AC or closer to heaters.
Also, if your team keep flexible hours or work shifts, seat those who work the longest hours throughout the day closest to the windows. This will ensure that natural light isn’t wasted on empty desks. You might also want to sit the workers who are last to leave nearest to the power points to make it easier for them to switch everything off before they leave.
How to Save Electricity in Your Workplace
While learning how to save electricity takes a conscious effort, it can be as simple as turning off the lights before you leave.
But, as most businesses find when they take steps to reduce their energy use, the reduction in their electricity bill is more than enough incentive to strive for a more energy-efficient workplace.
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