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Small businesses in the U.S. spend a collective $60 billion on energy each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.
Employers and small business owners want to run their operations as efficiently as possible, and businesses have significant potential to save energy. Here are some ideas for increasing the energy efficiency of your workplace with upgrades or behavioral changes.
Consider an energy audit. You can hire a professional to assess energy use, or check out online options. An expert can identify areas of weakness and suggest solutions.
With an accurate energy assessment, you can set energy-saving goals. Setting goals and tracking results is a great way to make progress toward saving energy and money.
Get employees involved. Without their cooperation, you might not see any changes. Tell them how to save energy and encourage them to cut down on energy costs. Rewarding energy-efficient behavior with gift cards or time off incentivizes changes.
Tune up your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, just as you would your system at home. Regular maintenance will help it run more efficiently.
Change or clean your HVAC filters. Dirty filters cost more to use, as they force the system to work harder.
Control sunlight by drawing the blinds closed to reduce heat in hot weather. Open them to allow the sun’s warmth to enter during colder times.
Plant trees to shade your building and help clean the air. Strategically planted trees can also block chilling winds.
Fans can help employees feel comfortable without having to lower the thermostat on hot days. Just remember to turn them off when no one is in the room.
Seal air leaks with weatherstripping and caulk. A tight building envelope keeps that expensive conditioned air in and outside air out.
Set the thermostat to comfortable yet energy-efficient temperatures. During summer when employees are at work, set the thermostat to 78 degrees, and higher when the building is unoccupied. In colder weather, set the thermostat to 65 degrees during work hours and lower when employees are away. A smart thermostat can make these changes for you automatically, so consider an upgrade.
Loosen up the dress code. A casual dress code might allow employees to wear more comfortable, cooler clothing during hot weather. If they’re comfortable, you might be able to turn up the thermostat a little more.
Just like it does at home, turning off the lights at work saves energy and money on the electric bill. Encourage employees to turn off lights when not in use. Installing automatic lights controlled by sensors can help ensure the lights are off when an area is not in use.
Swap obsolete bulbs for energy-efficient lighting options. Switching from incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs saves energy.
Turning off computers, printers and other office equipment when they are not in use can result in huge savings.
Plugging electronics into power strips allows you to turn off multiple devices at once, eliminating “energy vampires” that continue to draw electricity as long as they are plugged in.
Consider switching to laptops, as they consume less power than desktop computers.
Reduce paper use by printing only when necessary. If you do print, print on both sides of the paper to reduce the number of sheets and energy used to run the printer.