Defining Energy Efficiency for Business

Before we go too deep into the specifics of energy efficiency for business, I want to tell you a story. It’s about a guy named Bob. A guy I just made up.

Bob works downtown in a big office tower. He does well. So well, that everyday his pockets are full of money.

Every day Bob orders a hot-dog with all the fixings from the stand on the corner, but when he goes to pay the same thing always happens:

With all that money in Bob’s pockets, some change always falls out when he reaches for a five dollar bill. Sometimes it’s a few quarters, sometimes it’s a whole dollar, but everyday that change will land in the gutter and roll into the sewers.

For some reason, Bob doesn’t do anything about it.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? Letting money fall down the drain every single day?

Wasted energy creeps into everything in our business spaces, and letting that electricity and heat go to waste is no different than Bob letting that change fall out of his pocket.

What is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency is simple. It’s about reducing or eliminating waste.

What does wasted energy look like?

  • It’s the power being used to run a computer that no one’s using.
  • It’s the energy being used to push heat through a poorly insulated window.
  • It’s the electricity being used to power the light in the room no one’s in.

You’re losing money and getting nothing in return.

How to Improve Energy Efficiency for Business

There are three categories in which you can improve your business’ energy efficiency:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Appliance & equipment upgrades
  • Building enhancements

Behavioral Changes To Improve Energy Efficiency for Business

The way we interact with our environment can have a big impact on how efficiently we use energy in our business spaces. This can be as simple as remembering to turn off the lights when we leave a room, or as involved as designating someone on staff as your energy efficiency champion. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Turn off lights in empty rooms.
  • Limit your use of hot and warm water.
  • Make sure outdoor lights are turned off during daylight hours.
  • In the summer, close windows and blinds to keep the heat out and reduce the need for A/C.
  • Make sure your freezers and refrigerators are set to the right temperatures (not too cold!)
  • Unplug appliances at the end of the night to reduce standby power.

What’s standby power?

Standby power, also known as phantom draw and vampire power, is the power used by your computer, television, and other appliances while they’re off.

Basically, any electronic device that has a lit indicator light while it’s powered off (think of the little green or red light next to the power button) is sucking up standby power.

It’s not much, but when you think of how long these appliances sit in standby mode, the wastage can really add up and if you’re serious about energy efficiency for business purposes (like making that bottom-line look better every month), then you’ll definitely make an effort to end all phantom draw.

Appliance & Equipment Upgrades

Upgrading your appliances and equipment can go a long way in helping your business increase its energy efficiency. While old appliances may still work, there have been significant advances in efficiency over the past decade.

It might actually make better financial sense to upgrade and save in the long run, than continue to waste money, energy and resources on less efficient stuff. Here’s how you can start:

  • Upgrade your fans and motors on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.
  • Upgrade refrigerators and freezers to models that have high efficiency condensers and evaporators.
  • If you’re in manufacturing, upgrade your compressors, pumps, heaters, conveyors, chillers, and boilers.
  • Upgrade to LED lighting. You’ll reduce maintenance costs and cut down on your operating costs.LED lighting uses 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, plus it’s safer than CFLs  and also last longer and are even more energy efficient.

Efficient Building Enhancements

Sometimes the best energy efficiency upgrades for your business will come from enhancements to your building. Well insulated walls are a great start, but there’s a lot more you can do.

  • Insulate your hot water tanks and pipes.
  • Use sensors so that lights are only on in rooms people are in. This alone can reduce your lighting costs by up to 70 percent.
  • Add daylight sensors to outdoor light systems.
  • Use a programmable thermostat.
  • Use smart power bars with your computers and other “standby” appliances.