3 Unusual Ways to Save Energy at Your Business

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 energy efficiency hacks for businesses

Running a business takes a lot of power. Everywhere you turn is something else eating up electricity. When looking for a way to bring down your consumption, it's hard to know where to start. You've probably heard of all the classic advice like switching to LEDs and installing solar to mitigate your draw from the grid, but a company is a complex structure and there are dozens -  if not hundreds -  of big and little ways to improve your energy efficiency.

Here are three suggestions you probably haven't come across before that can make a significant difference in your next power bill.

1) HVAC Efficiency Hacks

The HVAC system in your building is one of the largest energy consumers.  This is common among almost all modern offices and facilities. Naturally, for people and machines to work at their optimal rate, you will need a certain amount of climate control: cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. However, not all HVAC systems are equal and you could be losing efficiency to something that is easily fixed. First and foremost, make sure your HVAC system is being completely and thoroughly maintained every year, and possibly every six months. Ask for an in-depth inspection with diagnostics in order to get a real idea of the health of your system. If the system is old enough, it might be time to replace key parts that have become inefficient.

Change the Filters

It's a simple suggestion, but one that can make worlds of difference. If it's been too long since your last filter change, this could be significantly reducing the efficiency of your entire HVAC system. When the filters are full, air can't get through easily and the HVAC has to work harder to get rooms to the correct temperatures. This means a lot of unnecessary power burn, not to mention lower air quality caused by pushing a lot of air through dirty filters. Regularly swapping out old filters for new ones will keep your air clean and reduce the power your HVAC system needs to achieve optimum climate conditions.

Seal Your Ducts

The quality of your air ducts should never be overlooked when considering energy efficiency. Any place air can escape in your ducts is somewhere you are losing energy because the hot or cold air isn't going where the HVAC wants it to. You may be heating utility closets and the space between walls rather than the rooms where your employees work and your customer visit., The thermostat will keep demanding more hot air until the proper temperature is reached. Even worse, an air leak could lead to accidentally over heating or cooling a section of the building while another section receives insufficient air. Check the entire length of your duct for leaks and patch them up to restore your HVAC efficiency.

Recycle Warm Air

One innovation that's becoming increasingly popular is the re-use of already warmed air. In the colder months, this saves your HVAC system the challenge of heating very cold air taken from outside. There's no need to vent warm air that's already run through the system once, just filter it and cycle again. If you have equipment that generates heated air like plant compressors, you can use that too to save your HVAC the trouble of even heating it the first time.

2) A Company-Wide Pledge

When a company decides to take on lowering energy consumption, this can be the job of a few people to solve a lot of problems. Or you can ask everyone to pitch in. Several businesses that value energy efficiency have decided to make it not just a goal, but part of their company culture. Consider getting every single employee involved and take a company-wide pledge to lower energy use. This not only gets everyone keeping an eye out for lights left on, it also puts tens to thousands of brains on the task of figuring out how to lower your energy use in a long term way.

An Open Ideas Inbox

Once everyone is thinking about how to increase your energy efficiency, make sure to have an avenue through which they can submit ideas. For small companies, you can do this the old-fashioned way using a comments box . However, for any group larger than 50 people, you probably want to designate an email address so ideas can be quickly jotted down and sent in from any location in the business, then easily sorted and considered by the manager in charge of energy initiatives. When you allow everyone to brainstorm on ways to save energy, you're sure to get a lot of impractical or silly ideas but there will also be a few creative gems in there that could be very helpful.

Scavenger Hunt for Energy Inefficiency

A fun way to get everyone involved in saving power is to hold scavenger hunt events in which teams of employees walk through the facilities looking for unnecessary uses of energy. Lights and machines left on when not in use, thermostats turned up in empty or sufficiently warm parts of the building, even coffee makers left on after hours can eat up the amps. If you want to make a game of it, let the teams rack up points based on what they find and reward the winning team with something minor but rewarding like a catered lunch or their name on a leaderboard.

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3) Monitor and Display Your Energy Use

There are now a number of products ranging from cable clamps to outlet pass-throughs that will allow you to monitor the energy consumption of every device, machine and appliance in your building. These monitoring devices will transmit their data and from here you can really get to work. Determine which items are eating a lot more energy than you expected and find ways to either turn them off more of the time or replace them with a model that is more energy efficient. In many cases, you may find that older devices are more economical to replace than pay for the energy they consume.

For items that employees use every day like printers, coffee makers, and ice machines it might be useful to post LED displays that show how much the devices use. This can help employees understand how much power they're using and while you wouldn't dream of stopping them from pursuing their mid-day caffeine fix, it may help them remember to turn things off between uses and before they go home at night. You might also consider grouping your monitors by department or floor and posting which segment of the company has made the biggest difference in consumption every week.

 

Because power consumption is such a big part of our culture and business environment, decreasing your burn is a complicated balance of lowering unnecessary usage and increasing the efficiency of the energy you do use. There are many ways to achieve your energy goals, some that are universal like LED lights and a few that will only work for businesses in your industry with your specific combination of machines and architecture. From maintaining your HVAC system to monitoring individual outlets, lowering your energy consumption is about covering all your bases.

 

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