April 3rd - April 22nd
While the students are competing in this energy reduction competition, it offers a chance for us to seek out ways we can support them by reducing our own energy consumption. Here are 8 ways to get started:
1. Turn Off Lights
Sounds obvious right? Well … not as obvious as it might seem. According to one survey by Lutron, 90% of Americans know of someone who forgets to turn out lights when leaving a room. Do you have signs next to light switches in conference rooms to turn out lights? Have you considered motion-activated lights in little-used hallways or common areas, that will turn off after a period of time and turn on only when someone enters the space? Think of ways to remind people to turn off lights, or have lights turn on and off automatically.
2. Upgrade Your Lights
By now, most of us know that incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. LED and fluorescent lights, as well as UID lights for large spaces, are better energy choices. But even with fluorescent lights, you may want to upgrade the fixtures, as older versions tend to be less energy efficient.
When looking for replacement bulbs, lumens are in, watts are out. Lumens measure how much light the bulb delivers. Watts measure how much energy is being consumed. Look for energy efficient bulbs delivering the lumens you need.
Don’t forget your Exit signs, either — they are often a high energy use. Retrofit or upgrade them to run off of LED lights.
3. Use Power Management Settings on Equipment
Screensavers used to be in vogue. But not anymore. Today, a black screen on a computer monitor not in use is a beautiful sight. On computers, printers and other pieces of office equipment, use the recommended power management settings to shut them off or go into hibernate mode when technology is not in use.
4. Move IT to the Cloud
Consider getting rid of your computer servers, and instead going with cloud-based systems. No more running multiple servers or cooling of that hot data center is needed. On top of that, more employees could telecommute. According to one survey in 2010, a small business with 100 users could cut its carbon footprint and energy costs by 90% by moving to the cloud.
There may be multiple reasons to move — or not move — to the cloud. But when evaluating that move, be sure to consider the energy impact as one factor.
5. Sign a Truce in the Thermostat Wars
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of an office thermostat war? According to a survey by CareerBuilder, almost half of employees said their offices were either too hot — or too cold.
Some employers put thermostats only in the hands of management to control — and avoid the constant adjusting of the thermostat by individuals.
Newer thermostat systems such as the Nest, have a feature called Thermostat Lock. This allows employees to adjust temperature but only within a certain range of a few degrees, to keep energy bills from getting out of hand.
A few fans in your office can also help it seem cooler in summer, and cost less than air conditioning to run.
And of course, there’s no sense in unnecessarily heating or cooling an empty office. Use a programmable thermostat that adjusts temperature at night and on weekends. One can pay for itself in no time.
6. Replace Old Equipment with Energy Star Rated Equipment
Whether it’s the refrigerator in the lunch room, the exhaust fans in the bathrooms, the printers, the HVAC system or the lighting fixtures — it may pay to upgrade to energy efficient models, especially if you have a lot of older equipment. Energy Star is an independent rating system for energy efficient products; so look for the Energy Star symbol and rating.
What’s more, the Energy Star website has a variety of valuable educational resources and tools just for small businesses. You can find a benchmarking tool to assess how energy efficient your building is. There are also guides for saving energy in specific types of small businesses — such as auto dealers, manufacturers, restaurants and retail.
7. Make Faucets, Toilets and Water Heaters Efficient
Leaking faucets and other fixtures can result in hundreds to thousands of dollars in extra water bills each year. Also, insulate your water heater if necessary to cut down on heating costs. Adjust the temperature of hot water heaters, too. Experts recommend between 110 and 120 degrees.
8. Control Sun Through Window Areas
Office buildings tend to have lots of windows, and during the summer or in southern locations, this puts an added load on your air conditioning system. Not to mention, it puts a load on your cooling bills.
Stillwagon, Amanda. 2017. "How to Save on Energy Costs in Your Office." Small Business Trends. https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/10/how-to-save-on-energy-costs-office.html