Offices come with their own particular set of energy savings challenges. Maintaining buildings systems and creating the best possible work environment for tenants, all while maximizing energy savings is hardly a simple undertaking. Unfortunately, even the most experienced building and facilities managers can make simple mistakes that lead to unnecessary energy consumption and heightened electrical bills.
To navigate these challenges, we have collected and debunked leading office energy myths, found the top 5 ways to save money on your energy bills and explain the most common mistakes regarding office energy use:
1. Always buy EnergyStar products.
Products with an EnergyStar mark are the most energy efficient and will save you a considerable amount of money in energy costs compared to standard models. So make sure all of the office appliances bear the mark to ensure you don’t miss out on easy savings.
2. Turn the lights off when you leave the room.
Leaving a light on will always consume more energy than turning it on and off, as needed. If the bulb is on, it is using electricity, and if it’s off, it isn’t -- it’s as simple as that. A light bulb doesn’t use extra electricity turning itself back on. Instead of leaving a light on in an empty conference room, make it a habit to turn off your lights when not in use. Using natural light during the day time will reduce the amount of energy you use each day.
3.Unplug electronics to really turn them off.
It is a good habit to switch off TVs, monitors, printers, etc. when not in use, but these electronics continue to suck power when they are off in "standby power" that allows the device to power up quickly when you turn it back on. According to PCWorld, this power waste can cost you up to $130 a year. Always unplug electronic appliances when not in use to avoid this hidden energy consumption.
4. LED bulbs are a smart investment.
When LED bulbs first appeared, they were significantly more expensive than a standard incandescent bulb – sometimes even costing up to $100 per bulb! But now, most LED bulbs cost less than $10 and studies have shown that LED bulbs are up to 10 times more energy efficient and last up to 50 times longer than the incandescent bulbs. Put simply, if you would rather pay $32 a year to power your lights than $201 a year, switch to LED light bulbs immediately.
5. Upgrading older equipment is worth the cost.
Sometimes the initial upfront cost of replacing old equipment can deter owners and managers from investing in newer technology. This is a mistake. By investing in new, more energy efficient technology you will, over time, save money through energy cost savings.
6. Make sure you’re paying the lowest rate.
Get in the habit every six months or so of asking your energy provider if you are eligible for energy efficiency promotions or discounts. Be certain you understand the energy rate that you are paying. Electricity rates will usually appear on your bill in dollar per kilowatt-hour (or $/kwh), and natural gas will be priced in dollar per therm. If you or your business is in one of 17 states where utilities have been deregulated, check the rates with independent suppliers for additional savings.
7. Replace your furnace filters every six months
Be sure to inspect and replace the filters in your furnace at least twice every year. Clogged filters will lowerer the heat exchange rate. A lower rate means more energy is used to maintain the same temperatures and more energy means more money towards your energy bill.
8. Upgrade to LCD screens.
There are numerous reasons to upgrade old CRT monitors to LCD screens. Improved image contrast, smaller size and reduced eye strain are all substantial benefits to employees. But in addition to these benefits, LCD screens average half to two-thirds the energy consumption of those CRT monitors. This increased energy efficiency will yield a significant savings each month.
9. Keep exterior doors closed whenever possible.
It’s common sense to keep the doors and windows shut while the heat or air is on, but this tip also applies to loading bays and maintenance areas. Keeping a tight seal on the building allows the interior temperature to remain constant and will reduce the need for additional energy usage.
10. Use a programmable thermostat.
Newer thermostats allow greater flexibility to program and regulate your energy usage. By adjusting your temperature settings seasonally for occupied and unoccupied periods within the office you can maximize your energy usage leading to serious energy cost savings.
11. Install occupancy sensors.
Occupancy sensors detect the motion of a room’s occupants and adjust the lighting accordingly to make sure that you are only using energy when you need to. Turning off lights in unoccupied areas and rooms allows you to not only cut out unnecessary energy usage, but extends the life of lightbulbs leading to reduced maintenance costs as well.
12. Utilize individual metering.
When your office is part of a multi-purpose building or complex, make sure your energy provider has installed an individualized meter for your space. Submetering allows your energy provider to monitor your energy usage apart from the other businesses in the same building. This way you will only have to pay for your own energy usage.
13. Get an energy audit.
Regularly auditing your energy usage will uncover additional ways to save and ensure that your energy improvements are maintained throughout the year. You can find a certified auditor to perform an inspection or you can do it yourself by finding a checklist online.
14. Upgrade dated building systems.
Up-to-date energy and temperature systems are crucial for accurately and efficiently managing your energy consumption. Newer systems provide ever increasing amounts of information that allow you to maximize your energy efficiency and minimize your monthly costs.
15. Take advantage of deregulation.
Energy deregulation allows consumers to choose a different supplier for your energy needs. This lets you to lock in your monthly rate for 1-3 years on a plan that has been individualized to your organization’s needs, all while receiving the same energy and services of your current utility.
By learning more about efficient energy usage and correcting past mistakes, you will be able to significantly reduce your energy consumption and increase your monthly savings on your energy bill!