Energy Saving Tips for Businesses in 2022
Rising energy costs prompt many to save energy. However, in doing so, many compromises the comfort of their workers or the quality of service they provide. As this is a dead-end street, let’s consider some ways that you can save energy without compromising your business. After all, an energy-efficient business is more likely to make it in today’s economy.
Running a business means high energy consumption. In fact, micro-businesses use an average of 5,000-15,000 kWh per month. Small businesses use 15,000-25,000 kWh, while medium business ventures use more than 25,000 kWh every month. Ensuring some energy savings means that you can save money and be more competitive in the market.
After all, the price of the energy you pay is directly tied to the pricing of your goods and services. Low energy bills, therefore, translate to lower costs per unit and a higher likelihood of reaching a new segment of customers. As US businesses start to realize this, we can see that the efforts to save energy and reduce overall energy usage (not just electric) are on the rise.
However, if you decide to cut on your energy usage, there are several things that you should understand. These factors to consider include understanding your current energy use, energy efficiency levels, and the different ways to include more energy-efficient practices in your daily routine. They also include you understanding what your goals are, and doing so in a realistic way.
Irrelevant of which ways you choose to reduce energy consumption, it is impossible to bring this expenditure down to 0 kWh. In fact, having a 30% reduction in energy bills is considered a big success. However, convert this 30% to your annual energy use, and you will be able to save as much energy to power your business for 3.5 months year in, and year out.
When understanding your current energy use, it would be good to take your power bill and see how much you pay for electricity every month. With this number in mind, you can do all other calculations. Try to see what pieces of heavy machinery you have, as they draw the most power. Try to expand this idea into lower energy users and understand energy wasters in your workplace. A 100-Watt laptop may not draw a lot of power, but a dozen of them will draw 10,500 kWh of electricity per year.
Switch to a Better Energy Provider & Better Plan
Now that you understand where energy goes in your business, think of the easiest way to optimize this energy usage. The first thing that comes to mind should be to seek a new energy provider and see what you can do to get your business energy at a lower price. Do not shy away from using Electricrate or even cold-calling energy providers working your ZIP code area to see what offers you can get.
In fact, finding business energy information online can be a hassle. You will need to have some basic information about your business and then contact the electricity providers themselves. Based on the data you give them and the average energy use of your business, they will come up with a customized energy rate for your business.
If it is lower than your current energy rate, go for it. This will help you cut energy costs without making any changes to the business or the building itself. In fact, you may even want to ask for freebies, such as free energy during some periods of the day and a possible free energy audit for your business.
Lock In Energy Rates
Regardless of what your business energy costs may be, you should consider locking in your energy rates before another snowstorm hits. Although this way you will be paying a bit more money for every kWh you use, locking in your energy rates will help you save money without energy-saving investments. The thing is that electricity is becoming more expensive year after year and securing your rate early enough will keep your energy costs in a reasonable range.
Protect Yourself from Energy Scams
When looking for these lower energy rates, you should beware of solutions and rates that seem too low. The thing is that no energy supplier can provide energy at ridiculously low prices and you may need to stay away from such offers. Even if legal, some energy providers will only show their share of the price per kWh, while the actual price you will be paying also includes fixed and utility company costs.
Use Tax Breaks and Other Incentives
The next thing to know is that you can use tax breaks and other incentives offered either by the state or the federal government. These incentives and tax breaks are generally applied to green energy solutions and energy-efficient machines. With this in mind, you should spend time planning long-term expenditures in your business, to ensure that your energy bills get lower year after year.
Some of these, such as the Federal ITC program, are applicable to any solar installation that can help you reduce your total energy use. In some cases, you can also use them to reduce heating and cooling costs by insulating your building, purchasing an Energy-Star HVAC system, or even installing a solar system on the rooftop. Never miss out on a chance to improve your energy usage and reduce energy costs.
Use Solar Power
Another way to reduce energy costs include installing solar panel on the rooftop of your business space. This is a great way to reduce your energy use, especially if the ZIP code area you work in offers net metering. This is a great way to reduce your energy bill and make a significant energy saving, especially as typical solar panels in the US take 4-12 years to pay off, but can be used for 25+ years.
Identify Peak Demand and Reduce It
The most common energy-saving tip for businesses is to identify peak energy demand and reduce it. However, as could mean shutting down essential equipment, it is much better to even out or level down the energy use by using different machines and appliances at different times and by spreading out energy use this way. By reducing your peak demand, you reduce the energy rate, as it is partly established based on your peak energy use.
Another important part of the road to reaching high energy efficiency is energy monitoring. In fact, energy saving is not possible without knowing where the energy goes. During the cooling and heating season, this is easy, but having a more detailed, even seasonal, outlook on energy usage enables energy saving at spots of highest usage. As no one is a professional here, you may want to seek professional help or even contact your energy supplier or electric utility company and see whether they offer energy audit services.
Regularly Conduct an Energy Audit
An energy audit is a detailed estimation of your energy use and a set of step-by-step advice on how to reduce business energy costs. A good energy audit will help identify high-use spots or a lack of energy management systems that could cost you hundreds every month. A good energy audit covers:
- All the devices and appliances used in your business space,
- All the machines that may be optimized or switched for more energy-efficient ones,
- The insulation of the space,
- The doors and windows as possible routes through which both cold and hot air could escape during the cooling and heating season, and
- All other energy wasters, including computers and other devices, may cost you thousands a year to keep on standby.
Take Advantage of Free Energy Audits
As businesses are large customers for every energy provider, considering how much business energy they draw from the grid, they are entitled to extra services that may not come with standard residential energy plans. A part of these extra services may be an energy audit. Contact your energy provider and see whether they could send their staff in to do a detailed analysis of the energy efficiency of your business building.
Even after all the measures have been taken to reduce energy costs, you may still find out that your energy management system clocks in more energy than you hoped it would. If this is the case, you may want to consider educating employees about the need to reduce energy expenses, how to better operate energy-efficient appliances, and how to reduce usage in other places – such as water use.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning [HVAC]
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units draw a lot of power. In fact, cooling costs are one of the biggest contributors to the energy bills your business has to pay if you are in the Southern, hot states. The cooling costs are further increased if the climate is also humid. It is quite the opposite in the Northern states, where the heating costs increase your energy bill the most. With this in mind, let’s see what you can do to reduce the energy used by your business for both heating and cooling.
Use Energy Star Rated Appliances
To start with, you should consider the efficiency of your HVAC system. A good HVAC system will use relatively little power and be able to keep the temperature of your space stable year-round. An energy-star-rated appliance may cost more than just any HVAC system, but will use energy efficiently and will enable you to save and pay off the price difference within years.
Conduct Regular Maintenance
Conducting regular maintenance is another way to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. This maintenance includes:
- Inspecting all the filters, cleaning and replacing them if necessary,
- Inspecting all the air ducts to ensure no dust, mold, mildew, rodent nests, etc. are present. Any kind of blockage can significantly increase your energy use,
- Inspecting all the air pumps and other moving parts for signs of wear and tear as well as for any blockage in the machine itself, and
- Inspecting the piping for any leaks that may make the unit work overtime, increasing your energy bills.
Change Air Filters Regularly
Changing air filters regularly can reduce business energy costs at a large. Namely, dirty filters obstruct air passage and make air pumps work harder to push through the same volume of air. If the air filters are very dirty, and almost blocked, the energy efficiency of the entire system will be compromised and you may even end up paying very high prices to fix the unit.
Identify and Remove Leaks
If there are any leaks in your JHVAC system, they should be dealt with on the shortest possible notice. In fact, leakage can completely stop your HVAC system from running, if the coolant leaks out. If there is a hot water leak (assuming your HVAC uses hot water to heat the space), you should address this issue as well, since you may even compromise the structural integrity of your building.
Utilize Energy Efficient Landscaping
Relying on nature to take care of our energy bills is as in as it gets. Using smart landscaping features, you can add energy-saving features to the building and its surroundings. Hiring a landscape architect to help you out and make customized solutions for your business space, taking into consideration your specific landscape features does not cost much, but can help you save thousands on your energy bill.
The way that efficient landscaping works is complex and may offer several benefits all at once:
- Using deciduous trees to shade the building during summer and let the sunshine in during winter months,
- Using shrubbery to further amplify this cooling and heating effect, as well as to provide a privacy screen and reduce noise coming from the street,
- Using low plants to provide esthetic benefits to the business, as well as to secure a more pleasant work environment,
- Using low-growing grass to reduce landscaping costs.
A good landscape designer/architect will also be able to implement ecological solutions to the site. The terrain, for example, can be constructed in such a way as to keep any rain off the parking lots and away from the building, effectively protecting your property and reducing watering needs. Gray water from the building can be used to water trees and other taller plants without compromising the health of your workers
Start Using Fans
Your business energy costs can further be reduced by implementing a low-tech solution known as fans. Most fan models have reversible spin direction or reversible blades that can help keep the space at a comfortable temperature year-round. During winter, they can blow the warm air that collects at the ceiling and push it downwards, where employees are. During summer, they can lift the hot air and keep the lower portions of the room comfortable for all.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Using programmable thermostats is a great way to reduce energy use. Every Energy-Star-qualified heating and cooling solution has a high level of adjustability. Use this to your advantage by pre-programming which areas of your business space will be heated/cooled and during which periods of the day. Being in operation 24/7 may defeat the purpose here, but reducing heating in a single portion of the building for the day can lower your bill.
Implement a Casual Dress Code
Implement a casual dress code. This will make everyone dress the way they want and feel comfortable and will reduce your heating and cooling bill. Making everyone wear a suit throughout the year may not be enough to keep them warm in the wintertime and may prove to be too many clothes for the summer. Energy management works on many levels.
Ensure Workplace is Insulated
Ensuring that your workplace is insulated can reduce your heating and cooling energy costs by up to 50%. In fact, a small business’s energy use mostly goes for keeping the temperature comfortable throughout the day and the year. By insulating the space, you can even keep more of the heat that comes with direct sunlight during winter.
Invest in Cogeneration Systems
Investing in cogeneration systems poses additional initial costs, but can reduce energy use, especially useful with increasing energy prices. This way of thinking can also increase your energy security and help reduce your carbon footprint. These systems can generate electricity and cogeneration heat can be used to heat the inside space. Other systems can generate heat and use a Stirling engine to cogenerate electricity.
Adjust Automatic Doors’ Closing Delay
Most automatic doors have a closing delay that is around a second long. While super comfortable, it may not be short enough, and a lot of heat can escape through the door when they are open. Instead, what you should do is:
- Make adjustments to the closing delay and shorten it as much as possible. Make gradual reductions to let the employees get used to them and to keep safety at a high level. Alternatively, you can
- Install a revolving door that lets much less air escape and reduce your electricity costs by reducing the energy required to reheat the air after it was cooled down.
Lights are another large electricity consumer in any building, be it residential or a business building. Old, incandescent lights accounted for up to 30% of a residential electricity bill. Today, this is significantly reduced with LEDs and more natural light being let into the buildings.
Use Natural Sunlight
Using natural sunlight is a great way to make a space brighter and warmer during winter months. In fact, natural sunlight is also good for one’s health and letting more sunlight in means less energy is used. This can help reduce costs by 5-20%. Be smart and plan accordingly, especially when designing a new building.
Using LEDs can reduce energy use by more than 80% – usually around 90%. LEDs last 5 times longer than regular lights and use much less electricity. LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes can also be connected to motion sensors and can reduce your business costs. Energy savings like this may seem small, but they are of accumulative character and can help you be more competitive in the market.
Always Turn Off the Lights
If you think that motion sensors are a waste of money, you should educate your employees to always keep the lights off. This way, you can reduce energy use, but rely too much on people. The best thing to do is to have employees present their own innovative ideas on how you can reduce energy uses.
Office equipment does not use much electricity, but considering how many devices there are, and the fact that they all run 24/7, it may be useful to consider some advice on how to make your office a bit more efficient than it is now. You can make your office more eco-friendly by:
- Completely turning off all the devices in it,
- Unplugging kitchen appliances and peripheral computer devices using a smart strip or a power strip,
- Investing in energy management software,
- Choosing Energy-star-rated equipment,
- Switching your old desktops for laptops,
- Using rechargeable batteries instead of purchasing a new set of your Double-As whenever a remote stops working,
- Going paperless,
- Installing hand dryers,
- Avoiding oversizing the equipment you use, and
- Shutting off entire office areas that are not in use.
Don’t Leave Electrical Appliances on Standby
Leaving all your appliances on standby all the time is a big energy waste. What you can do for your office to be deemed energy-efficient is to unplug them all before leaving the office for the day. Alternatively, you can also call your utility company or your energy provider (depending on whether you live in an energy-deregulated state or not) and see if you can get free overnight electricity. Although it may seem a bit unusual, in reality, some energy providers will meet you halfway and will provide you with some freebies.
Unplug Appliances or Use a Power Strip
If you decide to go for the first solution and unplug your appliances at the end of your work day, you can purchase several power strips and enable your employees to shut down entire desks with the push of a single button. Each desk in an office is a big user of energy, although it may not seem so. Just consider some devices found in an office:
- Several desktop computers,
- Several laptops,
- Servers (keep these on at all times),
- Coffee machines,
- Water stations,
- And many more.
Invest in Energy Management Software
Energy management software can do all this work instead of you. This type of software can connect to the hardware in the breaker box and will enable you to switch off or on various devices and appliances around your office. In fact, this software can help you track energy use to the minute and can help you detect peak energy use. This can then help you use less energy by optimizing.
Purchase Energy-Efficient Office Equipment
Purchasing energy-efficient office equipment is another great way to save a lot. You do not need to invest thousands to save a few bucks here and there. Rather, substituting desktops for laptops, investing in energy-efficient lighting, and programming your air conditioners can save more energy than purchasing desktops that cost thousands of dollars.
Switch to Laptop Computers
In fact, laptop computers use only about 45 Watts, which means that they will use a single kWh of electricity every three days after being plugged in and turned on (assuming 8 hours of use per day). In addition to this, laptops are also portable and more eco-friendly.
Use Rechargeable Batteries
Using rechargeable batteries is always a better and more affordable solution than purchasing single-use batteries. This way, you reduce costs and the cost savings add to all the previous solutions. In fact, rechargeable batteries take only about a night to fully charge but will last you for months. They are commonly used in remotes and wireless keyboards, wireless computer mouses, etc.
Going paperless in an office has multiple benefits:
- You save on electricity by using your printer less – unplug it instead of sending it to sleep mode,
- You save on paper,
- You save on expensive ink,
- You have the ease of searchability that paper does not provide you with.
You only need to print documents to be signed. This practice can prove to be very eco-friendly, help make your office greener, and help reduce waste (both literal and electrical). Most offices can benefit from going paperless.
Install Hand Dryers
Installing hand dryers can increase your energy use. This may seem counter-intuitive to the purpose of this article but is very likely to decrease your overall expenses. The hot air flow over hands can reduce the bacterial count, and save a lot on paper towels. The benefits add up, as added benefits include fewer man-hours needed to clean the space of the towels, to restock them and less space is needed to keep the paper towels stored.
Prevent Phantom Energy
Purchasing power strips and using power management systems both have the same purpose – reducing the phantom energy used in your company. While some devices, such as a water heater only use electricity when in operation, others use power even when seemingly off. In fact, those diodes that you see blinking red and green once the lights are off mean that the devices still use energy, although less than usual.
Avoid Over Sizing Replacement Equipment
You should always choose equipment that is of the right size and output for your needs. Purchasing equipment that is too big will do the job faster but will use more energy in doing so and spend more time on standby – again using more electricity than is needed. The equipment should be of just the right size, even though it may take longer to do the work.
Shut Off Unused Areas
As most office spaces and other types of business buildings are designed with expansion in mind, it is a no-brainer that there may be portions of the total area that are not in use. The thing with these spaces is that they do not need as much energy – they needn’t be heated or cooled. They represent unnecessary costs for your business. In fact, you can shut them off for months on end and reduce your energy use by the percent of the total area the unused areas represent.
What are Three Strategies for Conserving Energy at Work?
There are three basic strategies for conserving energy at work:
1. Understand energy use – to be able to assess what use is essential and what is not,
2. Reduce energy use – by investing in insulation and draft reduction, and
3. Purchasing energy-efficient equipment, appliances, devices, and machines.
How can Commercial Buildings be More Energy-Efficient?
There are many ways that commercial buildings can be made more energy efficient. Purchasing energy-efficient products, consulting an energy advisor, investing first in minimal repair costs, installing a smart thermostat and many other solutions can help you reduce energy use. Following energy-saving tips and exploring what options energy markets have to offer is another way to go.
What is the Most Efficient Source of Energy to Use in an Industry?
Wind and solar are the most efficient and the most affordable sources of energy to use in any industry. These two sources can produce energy that is cheaper than any other form of energy and can power your business at very low rates. Depending on your energy needs, you may even consider installing these renewable capacities on the site.
How can Businesses be More Energy Efficient?
There are many ways to reduce energy use and make your business more energy efficient. The first step is to identify target focus areas by understanding your energy use patterns. Then, using many solutions, as simple as applying heat reflective paint to the walls of the building, as well as some more complex ones, such as replacing your HVAC unit or your business’s water heater can also help you reduce your energy use.
Energy costs rise across the country as energy consumption and the volatile energy market dictate that energy prices should go up. In addition to this, the overall eco-friendly tendency in the market of goods and services demands that the products and services be delivered with the least possible use of energy and at the lowest possible price. Energy-saving tips may be enough for the reduction of residential energy use, but a more thorough approach is needed for businesses.