Saving money on electricity often comes down to two things: understanding how to save electricity and then implementing energy-saving practices without completely disrupting our lifestyles.
Companies, just like residential electricity customers, can save money by saving electricity. To cut costs, we discuss three ways businesses can save electricity.
1. Adjust the thermostat.
When was the last time you checked the thermostat at the office? There are two things that businesses should be aware of regarding their thermostat: the temperature (yes, it’s obvious but go take a look at it!) and the programming feature (hopefully yours has one).
During the summer, the Public Utility Commission of Texas recommends that everyone – residents and businesses alike – adjust the thermostat to 78 degrees and then set the temperature to 68 degrees during the winter. Every degree of extra cooling or heating away from the recommended temperature will increase your energy usage 6 percent to 8 percent, causing bills to increase as well.
What do you do when people complain about the office environment? Encourage your staff to dress in layers. If that’s not enough, consider allowing them to use space heaters or fans to make their office or cube more comfortable.
Then, the next step to energy efficiency with the temperature is using the program feature. If your HVAC system doesn’t have a timer on it, then you’ll have to designate someone to turn the thermostat up and down when they arrive at and leave work.
There’s no need to heat or cool an office space when no one is there. And if you’re worried about the temperature not being comfortable at the start of the workday, then program the thermostat to return to its normal temperature 30 minutes before everyone arrives.
2. Be smart with office equipment, especially computers.
Let’s start with one place the whole office can make a difference: computers. Everyone should use the sleep functions on their computers. Not only is that smart energy use, but it’s good for security, too. If people haven’t used their computers for more than five minutes, then the machines should automatically go to sleep.
The next step is to power down the machines at the end of the day. How many of you are guilty of leaving it on overnight? I certainly am. But there’s no need if you’re not backing up files or using it to transmit data during off-peak hours.
Another thing about computers – don’t forget the monitors. If you’re not going to use your monitor for more than 20 minutes, it’s probably a smart idea to turn it off, says Energy Savers. You should note that screen savers do not save energy. Sometimes, using screen savers can use even more energy.
When it’s time to get a new laptop or computer, consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR-certified machine, which consume 15 Watts of power or less in sleep mode. The investment could save you a substantial amount if you slowly switch to ENERGY STAR computers across your business.
Have you taken a quick look to see what every computer is plugged in to? Hopefully, it’s a power strip. If possible, all electronic devices in the office should be plugged into a power strip that is turned off before you leave the office to avoid consuming standby electricity, commonly known as vampire power.
Standby electricity is energy that is always available should you decide to turn on the device at a given moment. Electronics are using standby electricity even when they’re powered off if they’re still plugged in. The only way to completely stop the power flow is by unplugging the device from the outlet or turning off the power strip the device is plugged in to.
You also want to turn off all major electronic appliances like printers and copiers before leaving for the night to cut costs. Again, if they’re plugged into power strips, it’s easy to turn off the power strip as well to avoid the vampire power drain.
3. Look up at the lighting.
Have a summer intern or volunteer, ideally someone that’s excited about energy efficiency, take an inventory of the types of light throughout your business. They should classify the light bulbs by type (incandescent, CFL or LED).
If you primarily have incandescents, then you have the opportunity to save the most money long-term. Purchasing CFLs or LEDs do require a higher investment up front, but businesses can save much more in the long run.
For example, Brinker International, the parent company of restaurant chain Chili’s, announced in 2010 that it was switching the lights in all 800+ Chili’s locations to a mixture of efficient bulbs, reportedly saving $3.7 million a year in energy costs.
Kevin Falconer, senior director of design at Brinker, told Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine that the hefty investment in the new lighting would pay for itself in less than two years.
Another option to consider regarding lighting is the use of motion sensors. Utilizing this automatic feature will help save energy in vacant offices if people forget to turn off their lights or are out of their office longer than expected.
Make A Change Today
These things may be simple, but sometimes we take simple things for granted. Many times we set the thermostat and then forget about it until something out the ordinary causes us to take a closer look.
If you want to cut costs, ask for a volunteer or task someone with the responsibility of making your business more energy efficient. It’s not only good for the bottom line, but it’s good for the environment, too.