October is National Energy Awareness Month. An annual event, this national effort was established by the DOE to underscore how vital energy is to our nation’s prosperity, security, and environmental well-being.
Positioning our country for a sustainable future, creating new clean energy jobs, and laying the foundation for our long-term economic security is a big job. However, we can all be part of the solution. Each day we can make decisions that will help shape our energy future and move us toward energy independence.
To mark Energy Awareness Month 2013, the Obama Administration kicked off a month of clean energy events and activities. As a building owner or property manager, you can also do your part!
Here are some easy energy-saving actions you can do in honor of National Energy Awareness Month:
1. Lighten Up
Commercial energy consumption for lighting can represent up to 75% of a business’s total energy use. Survey your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescents (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Switching is easy, affordable, and — according to the EPA — can cut energy use for lighting by 75%.
Don’t’ forgot the parking garage! Many parking garages have outdated and inefficient lighting. Replacing the lights in your parking garage with CFL and LED can dramatically reduce energy use, save utility costs, and improve safety and security.
Also, since lighting expenses make up an average of 50% of a commercial building’s energy bill, simply turning off lights and switching to lower-wattage bulbs can make a huge difference. Consider installing timers or occupancy sensors to turn off lights automatically in unoccupied rooms and reduce the amount of time the lights are on in your building.
2. It’s in the Air
Heating, cooling and ventilating (HVAC) are responsible for about half of a commercial building’s energy use. Your business can save a lot by improving efficiency of your HVAC equipment. Make sure you look for Energy Star® labels when purchasing new equipment.
The biggest savings come from simply turning heat or air-conditioning down at night or installing a programmable thermostat or controls to regulate temperature. Also, matching HVAC output and equipment operation to building occupancy can optimize energy use and costs.
Conduct regular energy audits to determine the condition your equipment is in and how it is performing. These audits will show where and how energy is being wasted and help prioritize your energy improvement measures.
3. Power Down
Computer screensavers are a misconception as they do not save energy but keep monitors running at full power. Ask your building occupants to set their computers to sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity. Printers and copiers should also be turned off at night. According to the EPA, this can save anywhere from $50 to more than $150 annually per device!
4. Cut the Cord
A lot of office equipment continues to draw power even when switched off. Smart power strips sense when a device is turned off and cut phantom power. Smart strips have a quick return on investment and also serve as surge protectors. These smart strips also have hot outlets that are always on — a better option for laser printers, which are sometimes damaged by regular power strips.
5. Natural Climate Control
Trees can provide natural cooling and wind breaks. If you are in a colder climate, trees can reduce wind speeds by 50%. In warmer climates, they can significantly cut cooling costs by reducing the temperature up to six degrees. According to San Diego’s Office of Sustainability, three well-placed trees can save up to 30% of a building’s cooling costs. Trees also provide more physiological benefits – consuming carbon dioxide, controlling erosion, and filtering contaminants from the water supply.
6. Make a Clean Change
Perform building cleaning and maintenance during regular work hours instead of having it done after hours, which keep the lights, heating, and air conditioning on at night. Experiment with different “day cleaning” schedules to minimize disruptions and maximize your energy savings.
This checklist outlines just a few energy saving tips for building owners and property managers. For more in-depth measures on how you can improve the energy performance of your building, visit http://www.energystar.gov/buildings.