Five Energy-Saving Tips for Commercial Clients
As energy efficiency becomes more of a household topic, homeowners around the country are becoming more educated on how to save energy in and around their homes. They know ways to cut back on their water usage, improve their recycling habits and lower their electric bill. Yet, commercial customers have been traditionally less inclined to make these energy saving motions.
From cost concerns to operational uncertainties, there are myriad reasons why commercial entities might be hesitant to embrace energy saving measures. While not every company has to make the switch to solar powers or wind turbines, utility leaders can catalyze the conversation by introducing simple-to-implement procedures that can help even the largest outfit or enterprise reduce its carbon footprint almost immediately.
Let’s take a look at five ways commercial clients can reduce their energy use, save money and help our environment today:
1. Conduct an Energy Audit
Businesses could be shelling out tons to cover a huge electric bill each month only to never really reap the benefits of that power. The reason? They could be losing energy thanks to drafty windows and doors, outdated legacy equipment or a host of other reasons.
Yet, unless they do a thorough check on how their building and the personnel within it use energy daily, they’ll likely never know of these occurrences. To that end, an energy audit can be an invaluable resource in helping business leaders better understand exactly where those dollars are going and what they’re fueling. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an online tool called a Portfolio Manager to help executives manage the energy use and water use of any building they oversee. This can be a great first step in understanding energy use that can then segue into conserving it.
2. Fine-Tune the HVAC and Thermostat
This is one tip that commercial clients can borrow from homeowners. Like a typical household, a commercial building has an HVAC system (or series of systems) that can deteriorate over time without proper maintenance and upkeep.
Business leaders should schedule routine HVAC contractor visits before each heating or cooling season begins to keep their systems in top shape. Certain models might also be outdated and as such, could be working harder to keep up. In this case, they’re likely pulling excess energy from the building and could also pose a hazard. Replacing those with newer, energy-efficient models can present a drastic and beneficial change.
Along those same lines, executives can consider investing in a programmable thermostat system for their offices. Users can train these systems to use less energy when the rooms are not in use (such as overnight or on weekends), generating significant savings. Most also have mobile and web usage options, allowing even remote or in-field employees to monitor their settings.
3. Leverage Natural Light
Fluorescent overhead lights can be unsightly, not to mention the fact that they can lead to worker eye strain and headaches. To this end, encourage commercial clients to open the blinds or curtains and let natural light in whenever possible, turning off the lights if it’s feasible.
Sunlight is one of the purest, most renewable and most efficient sources of energy available and it only makes sense to capture this power as much as possible. Of course, remind clients that engaging in this practice for multiple hours a day could change the internal temperature of the building. Stress the importance of turning off all lights (and other systems) when shutting down for the day as well, which leads us to our next point.
4. Turn Off Everything When Not in Use
A standard, 100-watt office desktop PC uses 800 watt-hours of electricity per 8-hour workday. That number only grows if clients get into the habit of leaving their office systems on even when they head home at closing time.
If shutting down completely isn’t a feasible option, putting your computer into sleep mode is a good alternative. It won’t be as energy-efficient as a totally turned off system, but it will use far less energy than one left on all weekend. A screen saver might sound like it’s conserving energy but in reality, it isn’t. Reducing the power that’s going to your system is the only way to make a significant impact.
5. Embrace Virtual Work
Statistics reveal that office buildings in the United States use up 17.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per square foot of electricity annually. They also use 31.8 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot each year. Thanks to digitalization, there are now more opportunities than ever before to reduce that number.
From video teleconferencing that allows remote workers to visually participate in an on-site meeting to mobile apps that make operational management a breeze from home, companies have plenty of technology to work with if they want to allow or create a more virtual workspace. Doing so can reduce the amount of offices the building has to heat and cool. It also means that systems ranging from the coffee maker to the printer are used less and thus conserve more.
Sparking a Conversation of Change
The next time you’re communicating with a commercial client, lend these ideas as tips to help them ease into energy conservation. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be ready to hold that conversation about solar power sooner than you first thought.
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