Business Start Up Guides
Energy Saving Tips
Good energy management is good business. The prudent and conservative use of energy is one of the easiest and most cost effective steps you can take to cut operating costs and increase profitability.
It's easy to get started improving the energy efficiency of your small business with little expertise or money. There are many simple low-risk, high-return energy efficient improvements that you can make in addition to upgrades to your equipment and facilities:
Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified commercial food service equipment. For example, qualified refrigerators and freezers can save over 45% of the energy used by conventional models, which equals as much as $140 annually for refrigerators and $100 for freezers; deep fryers can save between $60 and $180 per year; hot food holding cabinets can save up to $280 per year; and steam cookers can save between $450 and $820 per year depending on fuel.
- For existing refrigerators, clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets if a dollar bill easily slips out when closed between the door's seals.
- Have large and walk-in refrigeration systems serviced at least annually. This includes cleaning, refrigerant top off, lubrication of moving parts, and adjustment of belts. This will help ensure efficient operation and longer equipment life.
- Consider retrofitting existing refrigerators and display cases with anti-sweat door heater controls, and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls.
Heating and Air Conditioning
"Tune-up" your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A contract automatically ensures that your HVAC contractor will provide "pre-season" tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. You save energy and money, and your system may last years longer with minimal costs yearly maintenance fees.
- Regularly change (or clean if reusable) HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. New filters usually only cost a few dollars. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
- Install an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat to automate your HVAC system. This solid-state, electronic device optimizes HVAC operation "24/7" based on your schedule, and can be "overridden" as needed for unscheduled events. So consumers and staff always enter a comfortable facility, this "smart thermostat" can turn on the HVAC one hour before arrival instead of heating or cooling unoccupied space.
- Control direct sun through windows depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the east and especially west sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as "solar screens," "solar films," awnings, and vegetation can help. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it's best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gain during the day.
- Use fans. Comfort is a function of temperature, humidity, and air movement. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only 3 to 5 degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3% on cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a "box fan" in the window, or large "whole facility" fan in the attic can push air out of the facility and pull in comfortable outside air. Fans can improve comfort and save energy year round.
- Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the deliberate controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air. To learn more about indoor air quality in your facility visit EPA's Indoor Air Quality.
- Turn off lights (and other equipment) when not in use. High utility costs often include paying for energy that is completely wasted.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), wherever appropriate. CFLs cost about 75% less to operate, and last about 10 times longer.
- Install switch plate occupancy sensors in proper locations to automatically turn off lighting when no one is present, and back on when people return. Even good equipment can be installed wrong, so don't install the sensor behind a coat rack, door, bookcase, etc. It must be able to "see" an approaching person's motion to turn on the light before, or as they enter an unlit area.
- Adjust lighting to your actual needs; use free "daylighting."
- To prevent glare, eyestrain, and headaches, do not "over-light." Too much light can be as bad for visual quality as too little light - and it costs a lot more.
- Install ENERGY STAR qualified exit signs. These exit signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating lamp replacement and can save up to $10 dollars per sign annually in electricity costs while preventing up to 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Consider upgrading to T8 (1" diameter) fluorescent lamp tubes with solid-state electronic ballasts that are more efficient than older T12 (1.5" diameter) tubes with magnetic ballasts.
- Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified products for your small business. The ENERGY STAR mark indicates the most efficient computers, printers, copiers, refrigerators, televisions, windows, thermostats, ceiling fans, and other appliances and equipment.
- Turning off machines when they are not in use can result in enormous energy savings.
- To maximize savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
- Common misconceptions sometimes account for the failure to turn off equipment. Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off. This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
- There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
- $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers.
- Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
- Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
- Studies have shown that using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and PDAs is more cost effective than throwaway batteries. If you must use throwaways, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.
Save money by improving the fuel economy of your business vehicles. Use the links below to find information and tools that can help you get started.
Types of Vehicles
Diesel Vehicles and Fuels
Fuel Cell Vehicles
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Tax and Financial Incentives
The greatest savings can be realized by undertaking a comprehensive energy efficiency program with the assistance of energy management professional
- Fix leaks. Small leaks add up to many gallons of water and dollars wasted each month. Water conservation saves energy and money.
- Use water-saving faucets and showerheads and urinals to save water.
- Install an insulation blanket on water heaters seven years of age or older, and insulate the first 3 feet of the heated water "out" pipe on both old and new units.
- If buying a new water heater, always buy the most efficient model possible. In areas of infrequent use, consider "tankless" water heaters to reduce "standby" storage costs and waste.
- Set water temperature only as hot as needed (110-120 degrees) to prevent scalds and save energy (check local codes for specific temperatures).
- When landscaping, practice xeriscaping by using plants native to your climate that require minimal watering and possess better pest resistance. If local code allows, consider diverting "gray water" for irrigation
Further information on implementing large-scale upgrades to entire facilities can be found in the Energy Efficient Upgrades section.