It’s that time of the year again. Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, the holidays are upon us and many are still actively trying to spread some cheer. If your business is open during this holiday season, it’s very possible you may be neglecting a few key ways to reduce energy costs during this time.
1. Use LED lights
Holiday lights will undoubtedly brighten yours and your customers’ evening while on, but they could be costing you more than you think if they aren’t LED lights. Generally speaking, LED lights use around 30% less energy than their incandescent or fluorescent counterparts.
Click here for a full breakdown of holiday lighting costs.
2. Unplug Equipment Not in Use
For the days your office is not in operation, unplugging all appliances you can which make sense to do so will help you avoid energy costs due to phantom loads. Phantom loads essentially are amounts of energy used by equipment that may be off but is still plugged in. It’s a little known fact that plugged in appliances do consume energy even after being turned off.
This is why, if you left your home for a month for example, you would still see a utility charge; the same applies for your business, so make sure you unplug those computers and other appliances, but within reason. If it isn’t feasible to turn off refrigerator
Click here to learn more about phantom loads
3. Use Battery Powered Holiday Equipment
Drawing power from your organization’s main electric system will end up being more costly than simply using battery powered equipment. String lights and other related products can be bought in configurations powered by rechargeable batteries.
4. Keep Cold Air Out & Hot Air In
If you feel a draft by your company’s windows or in certain spots in the facility, it’s likely that it does not have proper air sealing. This is a quick fix which could easily be handled by an air sealing contractor, but it can also be done yourself using methods like wire stripping. For more info, click here.
5. Set Up Programmable Thermostats or Building Automation
If your office has reduced hours during the holiday and you’re currently not adjusting settings to reduce temperatures when no one is there, you’re undoubtedly incurring larger heating and cooling costs than is necessary. Installing programmable thermostats, or even a building automation system, will rectify that problem, allowing you to automatically adjust temperatures in your facility at times you specify. This is a great quick way to lower costs during the holidays.
According to the Department of Energy, you can save 10% on electric bills by adding programmable thermostats. The savings only increase from there when installing a building automation system as well, as those go one step further in more closely regulating the mechanical functions of your HVAC units (whereas programmable thermostats simply just adapt to your chosen temperature settings).
6. Make Better Use of Natural Gas
In the winter you’re obviously running your heater a lot. If it’s powered by natural gas, and if your facility relies on a lot of natural gas, an option to significantly reduce your natural gas costs would be to install a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) to more closely regulate your facility’s natural gas use and use less natural gas overall.
CHP units use cheap and effective natural gas to drive a generator to produce electricity for your own use while the wasted energy is used to heat your facility. CHP units work in conjunction with your building’s boiler system, so having one central heating system is the most ideal situation for using with CHP systems. The main impact is that they reduce the strain on your boiler system and the consequent electrical demand charges resulting from your operation.
7. Less Space Heaters, More Central Heating
In the winter, it obviously gets pretty cold out, which might prompt your employees to whip out a space heater to stay comfortable. This is a mistake. As we discussed in a prior article on our blog, space heaters consume a lot of power. For such a small item, you wouldn’t expect space heaters to use much energy, but one alone can consume almost as much as an electric stove/range. See the below graphic to compare the amount of energy space heaters use with other common appliances.
The key is to instead use your current heating system to better heat your facility and outright avoid having your employees use space heaters altogether. Cleverly using programmable thermostats and/or building automation systems can go a long way in ensuring your employees’ comfort during winter months.
8. Get an Energy Audit
If most or all of your employees will be away for the holidays, that’s the perfect time to get an energy audit to properly assess your energy use. This can sometimes cost money, but EnergyLink offers this as a free service.
Energy audits will evaluate lighting, thermal boundary, heating and cooling systems, boilers and chillers, and any other mechanical systems used throughout your facility. Your utility bills will also be requested to get a full, quantitative and qualitative analysis of your facility’s energy use and make better judgements on improvements you could make.