In a time of slow economic growth, businesses continue to look for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality or performance. One of the often overlooked methods to save on business expenses is to consider the true cost of energy resources.
Energy efficiency is a proven cost saver. We do this in our homes every day. We turn out the lights, buy programmable thermostats, install weather stripping, and otherwise do our best to conserve kilowatts and cash. However, when we look at the big picture of energy efficiency from a business perspective, the task becomes much more daunting.
Most utility companies will help companies conduct an energy audit that uncovers where the greatest usage comes from. In a typical commercial building, the HVAC system can take up to 65 percent of all energy dollars. Lighting represents another 20 percent; with remaining business operations comprise the final 15 percent.
Investing the time necessary to complete a comprehensive energy audit is the only way to get a truly accurate look at your company’s energy usage. The data uncovered in the audit will expose your trouble spots and indicate where greater efficiency can make a vast improvement. You may be surprised at what the study reveals.
Now that there is a baseline to work from, your company’s operations and facilities engineering team can begin creating recommendations for alternative energy sources, building improvements, and equipment upgrades. Both short and long-term plans should be developed, with actionable goals along a reasonable timeline.
Energy efficiency improvements will require an upfront investment that will pay you back over the long run. Some suggestions may be elaborate and expensive, such as installing solar roof panels. Other ideas may be as simple as:
- Replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
- Putting motion sensors in each room to turn the lights off automatically when the space is vacated.
- Maintaining your HVAC systems and office equipment for optimal performance.
- Installing window coverings to keep the sun out on hot day, and retain heat in at night in the cooler months.
- Updating window glass to newer solar insulating technology with low-emission glass coatings.
- Replacing older equipment and office appliances with new ENERGY STAR® rated alternatives.
There are also free solutions like rearranging offices to take greater advantage of natural light, turning off equipment and lights at the end of the day, lowering the temperature on the hot water faucets, and other simple actions. Any reduction in energy consumption will save costs over time. Any action you take today will pay off tomorrow.
Going to market as a company that values sustainable business practices has intrinsic value in the minds of your employees, customers, and community members. It can give you an advantage over your competitors, and even boost employee morale through eco-friendly programs. People want to be part of an organization that is doing the right thing to protect and preserve the future.
Companies that are expanding their footprint to new locations have a truly outstanding opportunity to build or renovate with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) principles in mind. Technologically advanced materials are making it easier to insulate buildings and automated energy management systems can do a lot of the work for you.
Sustainability, of course, begins with knowing how you are using energy, where you are wasting energy, and how you can cut back for positive results that make a difference.
William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes energy consumption of businesses and aims to encourage further study with a Master in Electrical Engineering.