Heating and cooling, lighting and office equipment are the largest energy users in office buildings.
Start with an energy audit and then implement recommended cost-saving opportunities.
Purchase ENERGY STAR certified equipment, which is more energy efficient than standard models.
Energy is a significant operating expense for office buildings. The biggest energy users are heating and cooling, lighting and plug-in loads, such as computers and office equipment. By taking steps to understand how your office building uses energy, you can take steps to reduce your operating costs and increase profitability.
Start with an energy audit
An energy audit is an essential first step in understanding how your building uses energy and finding the right cost-saving opportunities. A professional auditor will inspect your facility and perform a series of tests to assess its overall energy performance. You will then receive a report suggesting targeted opportunities to improve efficiency.
Heating and cooling is the largest energy hog in office buildings, accounting for about 45% of overall energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Lighting comes in second at about 25%. By focusing upgrades in these areas, you can substantially reduce your energy bills.
Heating and cooling
- Install or upgrade your energy management system. Make sure it's set appropriately for occupancy schedules and changes in weather patterns.
- Water-cooled chillers may be an attractive option, depending on the size of your building. Although they're much more energy-efficient, higher installation costs normally limit them to larger applications.
- Install air handling systems with variable speed drives.
- Make sure that doors and windows, as well as duct systems, are properly air sealed.
- Replace T12 fluorescent fixtures, lamps, and magnetic ballasts with LED tubes or fixtures. These fixtures offer comparable light output, while using much less electricity.
- In lobby or reception areas with table lamps or similar fixtures, use LED lamps instead of incandescent bulbs. Not only will these consume less electricity, but they'll also need to be changed far less often, reducing maintenance costs.
- Install occupancy or vacancy sensors in restrooms, break rooms or conference rooms to turn off lights when they're not in use.
- LED exits signs are often overlooked as an energy-saving opportunity. A typical 40-watt incandescent exit sign can cost $25 annually in energy costs alone, while an LED sign, typically consuming only 5 watts, can use as little as $3 in annual energy costs.
- Be sure to employ the power management functions on copiers, computers, monitors and printers.
- Turn off equipment — such as computers, copiers and coffee machines — at night and when they won't be used for an extended period of time. A smart power strip will shut off all power to electronic devices that are already in the low-power "sleep mode."
- Printers use a significant amount of energy. Sharing one printer among multiple users can lead to substantial savings and help to reduce paper costs.
- Replace desktop computers with laptops, which use a fraction of the energy. Select energy-efficient computers and monitors.
- Contrary to popular belief, screen savers don't save energy when running, unless they turn off the screen. Typical animated screen savers require as much power to run as word processing programs.
- Consider occupancy sensors for vending machines in your staff break room.
Buy energy smart
When replacing equipment around your office, purchase products that are ENERGY STAR® certified. ENERGY STAR office equipment, vending machines and water coolers are significantly more energy-efficient than conventional models.