5 Steps to Cool Summer Savings
Are your energy bills rising along with the mercury? Stay cool and comfortable with these cost-saving measures.
Summer air conditioning accounts for a cool 10% of total energy use in commercial buildings nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Although cooling is important for comfort and productivity, it also presents a significant opportunity to reduce your operating costs. The five steps that follow will help you lower your energy bills this summer and all year long.
1. Benchmark your facility and set energy-saving goals
The first step in developing a summer energy-saving program u2014 or any time of year u2014 is to measure your current energy use against industry standards. This will help you locate opportunities to improve efficiency and set energy-saving goals. Use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manageru00ae to compare your energy consumption.
2. Inspect and maintain your cooling system
Hire a qualified professional to inspect your air conditioning system before the cooling season begins, and perform regular maintenance to ensure efficient operation.
Energy-saving maintenance strategies include:
- Inspect ductwork and seal leaks. Duct system leaks reduce system performance and efficiency.
- Check and replace air filters regularly. Dirty filters reduce airflow and waste energy.
- Keep outdoor condensing units free of dust and dirt, which block airflow.
- Calibrate thermostats to make sure they're functioning properly.
3. Adjust cooling equipment to occupancy schedules
Is your building temperature set at the same level 24 hours a day? Adjusting temperature settings when the building is unoccupied is a highly effective, no-cost way to save energy. For every two degree increase in temperature over a 12-hour period, you can save 3% in cooling energy costs.
4. Upgrade lighting systems
Energy-efficient lighting technologies, such as LEDs, give off less heat than conventional bulbs. You'll not only reduce your lighting costs, but your air conditioning load as well. For additional savings, install occupancy sensors to turn off lights in areas with varying use, such as conference rooms and restrooms. Also, use photo sensors and controls to dim lights when free daylight is available.
5. Reduce peak demand charges
Peak demand is your most energy-intensive period u2014 measured in 15- or 30-minute intervals u2014 during the billing cycle. You're charged for peak demand because it costs money to make that extra power available. Demand charges can become a real problem during the summer, when air conditioning loads strain the electrical grid.
These tips will help you reduce peak demand:
- Set daytime building temperature higher to reduce cooling demand; allow employees to wear appropriate clothing to ensure comfort.
- Sequence or schedule equipment start up and operation using an energy management system (EMS).
- Use backup generators to power equipment that can't be shifted away from peak demand periods.
Get everyone involved
To reduce summer energy costs, employee cooperation is necessary. Meet with staff to educate employees on basic energy-saving behaviors. Discourage the use of personal fans. If employees feel uncomfortable, it could be a sign of a cooling system problem that should be addressed. Encourage employees with windows to adjust shades to allow for daylight, while minimizing heat gain. With everyone working together, you can save energy this summer and beyond.