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These 5 Energy Vampires are Draining Your Business

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There are some scary energy facts out there. 

However, energy vampires might be the scariest of them all. Energy vampires — which are generally those devices and appliances that continue to drain electricity when not-in-use — can be a costly source of energy waste for both homes and businesses.

Here are five energy vampires that could be draining your business as we speak and some "silver bullet" solutions for each. 

1. Chargers

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, mobile phone chargers that are left plugged in after your phone is disconnected can consume .26 watts of energy and 2.24 watts when your phone is fully charged and still connected. 

Now, that alone might not translate to much on an energy bill, but when it's done repeatedly with multiple devices by multiple employees, it all begins to add up. In fact, some estimates believe that leaving unused devices and appliances plugged in could add up to 10 percent on a monthly energy bill. 

But, it doesn't have to be that way. You can easily avoid this unnecessary energy waste by having employees unplug their chargers or utilize a power strip's on/off switch to cut off all power to the chargers. 

2. Computers

Computers present a more costly energy vampire. 

If left on during nights and weekends, a single computer can add an extra 30 dollars onto an office's energy bill each year. Simple turning off your office's computer monitors can save on your business's energy bill since they use about 100 watts per day

How else can you reduce your computer's energy usage?

Ensure that computer monitors are set on automatic sleep mode or are manually turned off when not in use. Screen savers do not reduce energy use by monitors. Be sure to place computers into a low-power "sleep mode" after a set time of inactivity. You can also purchase commercial power management software to help ensure your machine is running efficiently. 

Better yet: switch to a laptop computer. On average, laptops are more efficient and use 80 percent less energy than desktop computers. Laptops generally have a maximum draw of 60 watts, where common desktop computers can soar to 175 watts.To maximize energy savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter in a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically) as the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.

3. Refrigerators

Leaving the refrigerator door open means your appliance is working overtime and using more energy. Thus, it's important to ensure you purchase the most energy efficient models and conduct regular maintenance, especially if refrigerators are a major part of your business. 

As with any type of equipment, purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified commercial food service equipment as it can help you tap your energy savings potential. If you have refrigerator display cases, consider retrofitting them with anti-sweat door heater controls and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls. Qualified refrigerators and freezers can save more than 45 percent of the energy used by conventional models, which can translate to annual savings of $140 for refrigerators and $100 for freezers.

Clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets if a dollar bill easily slips out when closed between the door's seals. This will help ensure your refrigerator is using energy efficiently and retaining coolness. If your business has a large or walk-in refrigeration system, make sure it is serviced at least once a year. The service should include: cleaning, refrigerant top-off, lubrication of moving parts and an adjustment of the belts. With annual maintenance, your refrigerator will function more efficiently and have a longer life.

4. Lighting 

Now, lighting might not be considered a traditional energy vampire, but it still accounts for some costly energy waste. 

According to ENERGY STAR, lighting consumes 25 to 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings, so always remind employees and coworkers to turn off lights when not in use.  

Over-lighting can also cause other problems in the workplace such as glare, eyestrain and headaches. Too much light can be as bad for visual quality as too little light – except it drives up the cost of your energy bill. 

If your business still uses incandescent light bulbs, switch them out for more efficient and cost-effective lighting. Energy-efficient light bulbs — which include halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) — use up to 80 percent less energy than conventional lighting and can last up to 25 times longerAlso consider installing dimmers and occupancy sensors in proper locations to automatically turn off lighting.

5. Thermostats

Vampires don't just drain power — they can also mess with your thermostat, putting it on inefficient settings. 

One of the easiest ways to save money on your energy bill is by controlling your thermostat. Turn thermostats higher when cooling and lower when heating an occupied building or unoccupied areas within a building (e.g., during weekends and non-working hours). 

Beyond your thermostat, it's also important to maintain your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Even an ENERGY STAR-qualified system can decline in performance without regular maintenance. An annual maintenance contract ensures that a HVAC contractor will provide a tune-up before each cooling and heating season. Your system may then last longer with minimal repair costs.

It's also important to regularly change (or clean if reusable) your HVAC filters every month during heating and cooling seasons because the more you use air-conditioning and heating, the more air and particles are being run through your HVAC system. New filters are relatively cheap and dirty filters cost more to use, overwork your equipment and result in lower indoor air quality.

Posted: October 28, 2016

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