The bottom line of running a successful business is to make all your dollars count. Cutting back unnecessary energy use keeps hard-earned money in your pocket. This is especially important now as Californians face more critical energy shortages and the possibility of rolling blackouts.
Here are many ideas, including some you can put to work in minutes at no cost to you, to good energy saving investments when you are ready to replace equipment or do remodeling. Don't forget to check out the Peakload Reduction Incentives and Rebates available to you from the State and your local utility.
Use large equipment during off-peak hours whenever possible. (Before 4 p.m. - after 7 p.m.)
Turn equipment and lights off after hours.
Always choose ENERGY STAR® products whenever possible.
Set energy-saving features on all your office equipment to put them into sleep mode when not in use.
An energy audit might be the best investment you can make for your business.
Heating and Ventilation Systems - Improve Efficiency
Set the thermostat in your workspace to 68 degrees during work hours and raise the setting to 55 degrees when the space is unoccupied. For every degree you lower the heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range; you can save up to 5% on heating costs.
Use a programmable thermostat and make it easy to adjust the settings as well as regulate the temperature when you are closed to avoid unnecessary heating costs. Consider a locking cover over the thermostat to avoid having employees change temperature settings.
Open window blinds to warm your rooms from direct sunlight.
Allow your workers to wear warm clothing during cool weather. It makes little sense to keep a room hot enough that workers wear hot weather clothing.
To save energy, keep your exterior and freight doors closed as much as possible.
Keep your heating and ventilation systems tuned. Maintain a regular filter replacement and cleaning schedule. Don't forget to check ducts and pipe insulation.
Install ceiling fans - they circulate the warm air, pulling it away from the ceiling. Remember to change the fan rotation so it is reverse of your summer use.
When buying new heating and ventilation units - choose ENERGY STAR. They are 20- to 30-percent more efficient than older models.
Rewire restroom fans to operate with the lights.
When possible, remove solar screens, blinds or awning on the south and west facing windows to help increase heat gain, during the winter months. Replace during the summer.
Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.
If possible, install ceiling and wall insulation. You will save money on your monthly utility bills and your employees will be more comfortable.
Lighting - The Right Light for the Right Task
Many offices, stores or factories can easily reduce lighting without affecting productivity. Turn off as many unnecessary lights as possible. Use task lighting instead of overhead lighting, and light only those areas that are needed at the time. Providing the right lighting can save up to 15 percent on your lighting bill.
Again, make sure that equipment and lights are turned off after hours.
Replace old fluorescent lights with newer, more efficient models with electronic ballasts (such as retrofit T12 lights with magnetic ballasts to T8 lights and electronic ballasts). To help you make the best choice for lighting options, including power reducers, go to the Energy Adviser.
Replace your high-use incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. A compact fluorescent light uses 75 percent less electricity to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb. The compact fluorescent will last about 10,000 hours as opposed to the 600- to 1,000-hour average life of an incandescent. By replacing a 100-watt incandescent with an equivalent 25-watt compact fluorescent, you can save more than $90 per bulb in electricity costs over the 10,000-hour lifetime of the compact fluorescent.
Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces are cleaned regularly. By removing grease, dust and other dirt, you can increase the output of your lights.
Install automatic room-lighting controls to turn lights on or off depending on occupancy or time of day.
Change out incandescent or fluorescent exit signs with LED exit signs.
Computers and Other Office Equipment
Turn off your computers and any other office equipment when you're not using them, especially overnight and weekends. This practice costs nothing and can potentially save as much as $44 per year, per computer, depending on what you pay per kilowatt-hour. "Smart" power strips are being marketed that sense the presence or absence of office workers and turn the attached equipment on and off accordingly.
As computer protection during a power curtailment, your company might invest in "Uninterruptible Power Supplies," (also known as UPS) which combine surge protectors and battery packs. These will run a computer for a short time and prevent the loss of information when the power goes out.
To be as energy efficient as possible, only buy office equipment that displays the ENERGY STAR® logo.
Choose settings that automatically switch the computer monitor into sleep or "power-down" mode when it hasn't been worked on for a preset amount of time. Shorten the delay time before your monitor automatically goes into sleep mode.
Consider having employees use laptop computers since they use up to 90 percent less energy than a standard computer.
If it works for your business, consider ink-jet printers which also use 90 percent less energy than laser printers.
Purchase the proper sized copier for your business needs.
Choose a flat-panel computer monitor rather than a regular cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor. Some flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors use considerably less electricity than comparably-sized CRT models, but the extra first cost is still much more than the lifetime energy savings. However, prices for LCD monitors have been dropping, so they may be cost effective. If you have to buy a CRT monitor, buy the smallest monitor that will meet your needs. The bigger the monitor, the more energy it uses. For example, a 17-inch monitor consumes 35 percent more electricity than a 14-inch monitor.
Food Service and Refrigeration Equipment
Fully load cooking equipment to use energy efficiently; however, be careful not to overload beyond the recommended capacity.
Keep pots covered to reduce heat loss.
Remember, keep refrigerators full too. A full refrigerator retains the cold longer and will cycle on less frequently.
If ice makers factor big into your business, reduce your energy costs by choosing the right one for the job.
Preheat cooking equipment at the manufacturer's recommended setting.
Keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up with regular maintenance. Check levels of oil and refrigerant.
Turn off backup fryers and ovens during low production periods.
Use insulated night covers on display cases.
Install automatic door-closers and strip curtains on walk-in freezers or coolers.
Make sure oven doors fit tightly by adjusting door latches and that gaskets are in good condition.
Buy insulated cooking equipment when possible since insulation keeps more heat in the equipment instead of the room.
Consider replacing broilers with smooth or grooved griddles... your energy consumption will be significantly reduced.
Check out the "Flex Your Power" website at:
For more information about incentives and places to purchase energy-efficiency appliances.