As a business owner or someone who manages a building or office, you know all too well how energy consumption costs reduce your bottom line. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there is roughly a 33% waste of energy usage in the average building. That can be a frightening thought to any building manager. The good news is that there is typically a lot of room for improvement!
Did you know that your HVAC system accounts for 50 to 60-percent of building energy costs? As a result, many of the most effective strategies for saving energy involve your HVAC system. See the tips below for more details.
1. HVAC maintenance: an easy way to save energy in buildings
Why is regular HVAC maintenance so important to reducing energy use in buildings? Regular visits from an HVAC professional make your system more efficient and help prevent costly repairs. Clogged filters, dirty ducts and coils, debris and dust laden vents and fatigued parts will make your system work harder and longer to get to set temperatures. If you have a preventative maintenance contract, an HVAC technician will thoroughly inspect and clean different parts of your system to ensure system efficiency.
2. Insulation saves energy
Adding insulation is another easy way to save energy. It’s fairly inexpensive. According to the EPA, you can save 10-percent of your energy bill by installing proper insulation and sealing your building. Don’t just look at the obvious places: windows and walls. It is important not to overlook pipes, HVAC ducts and electrical outlets.
3. Teach employees to turn off electronics
Well, we might sound like our parents, but that’s okay. Work places make up 50-percent of our country’s energy usage. So, it’s sensible to teach employees the importance of shutting off lights and equipment. Train employees how to save energy in buildings.
4. Utilize smart building technology
The latest controls and programmable thermostats should be part of your strategy to reduce energy consumption. Doesn’t it make sense to reduce or turn off lighting, heat and air conditioning when your building is not in use? Smart building controls eliminate the human forgetfulness factor of failing to turn off or down lighting and HVAC settings.
5. Change or retrofit your HVAC system
A retrofit can be a stop-gap before you have to replace your system entirely. Retrofits, which can include replacing the system’s compressor, adding condenser fan controls, adding demand-controlled ventilation and adding air side economizers, can boost your comfort and reduce your energy bill. The Department of Energy has estimated that a retrofit can equate to an energy savings of up to 35 percent. That makes a retrofit an attractive option when you’re thinking about how to save energy in buildings.
While a retrofit might not be a good fit in all instances, a large well–maintained, but energy –guzzling system might be a good candidate for a retrofit.
If you do decide to change your HVAC system be sure to look at energy ratings. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) calculates the energy efficiency of air conditioners based on a seasonal temperature average. Today’s more efficient systems have ratings as high as 21, while older models may be rated between a 5 and 10. What does this mean to your wallet? A system with a 16 SEER rating costs roughly half to operate as a system with a SEER rating of 8.
6. Don’t throw money out the window
Your space might have old windows that are not very energy efficient. Though new windows are a big investment, new windows can produce tremendous energy savings. Also, look at your windows when assessing how to save energy in buildings. Your old roof can also waste energy by leaking air conditioned and heated air.
7. LED lights can result in simple savings
Often businesses use up a lot of energy through lighting. According to the EPA, Energy Star-rated bulbs use 75-percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last up to 10 times longer.
8. Get energy efficient appliances
Your old office refrigerator, water cooler and vending machines use a lot of power. Replacing older models with newer energy-efficient ones will help you reduce energy use in buildings.
9. Get the right size HVAC system when figuring out how to reduce energy consumption in buildings
Are you are choosing a new HVAC system or replacing older building air conditioning? Don’t be tempted to get an overly robust system because bigger is not always better. The first thing you want to do is ensure that the load calculation is accurate. A properly-sized system is designed for your building. An oversized system can result in increased upfront, maintenance and energy costs.
10. Do an energy audit
Most of these steps often begin by performing an energy audit on your facility to determine potential areas of improvement. An energy audit can be a good idea for both your business and your home. The audit can be completed yourself or by hiring a consultant to audit your energy usage.
A good place to start when trying to get a handle on your energy usage is to review your bills. Also, look at your service, repair and maintenance records. You should conduct a full inspection of your HVAC and lighting fixtures to determine overall condition and efficiency. You might find that you can reduce energy consumption by taking care of problems that cost nothing or next to nothing to solve such as moving furnishings that block vents.