10 money-savings tips to keep your business cool this summer
Did you know that air conditioning can comprise nearly half of all commercial electricity use in the summer? Talk about scorching energy bills! To help you save money, we have developed a list of the 10 best ways to keep your business cooling costs low in the summer heat.
- Blinds and shading.
Inside shading can reduce solar heat gain by 20 to 70 percent. Avoid black shades, and be sure to choose lighter-colored shades that will deflect the most heat. If possible, invest in exterior shading, which can repel 95 percent of the direct solar gain. Businesses with lots of windows facing the afternoon sun can expect significant air conditioning savings from exterior shading.
While a vital part of any heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system, vents are easily overlooked. Keep vents unobstructed to increase air circulation. Also consider closing vents in seldom-used spaces to reduce air conditioning costs.
- Reduce waste heat.
Operating lighting and office equipment increases heat inside buildings. According to the government agency ENERGY STAR, lighting is the largest source of commercial property waste heat. Instead, use natural light, occupancy sensors and LED bulbs (which produce less heat than regular bulbs) when possible to reduce lighting costs and save on cooling expenses. If purchasing a business computer, consider a more energy-efficient model. Newer devices can use up to 90 percent less energy than standard computers and produce less waste heat.
Fans may be old-fashioned but are still a practical, inexpensive way to lower energy use. During milder temperatures, a fan can eliminate the need for air conditioning and keep a room cool for just a few cents per day. In the heat of summer, fans also help circulate air to keep you comfortable without cranking up the air conditioning.
- Programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is a great way to improve efficiency. When no one is in the building, typically eight or more hours a day, a thermostat can adjust the temperature 10 to 15 degrees and reduce energy bills by 10 percent. Calculate your potential savings with this programmable thermostat calculator from ENERGY STAR.
- Change air filters.
Air filters tend to be out of sight, out of mind, but they should be changed every three months. This simple, do-it-yourself procedure will allow more air to flow through your system and result in lower operating costs.
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve gas mileage and increase its longevity, a yearly tune-up of your cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort and extend the life of your air conditioner. Keep in mind this is generally a job for an HVAC specialist, however.
- Seal ducts.
According to ENERGY STAR, up to 20 percent of air that moves through ducts is lost due to leaks, holes or poor connections. Sealing often easily accessible or exposed ducts with long-lasting sealants or metal tape can be a simple do-it-yourself project. If they are in crawlspaces or around wiring and equipment that’s too hard to reach, hire a licensed contractor. It will be worth the money you spend.
- Seal the building envelope.
About 42 percent of energy is lost through doors, roofs, attics, walls, floors and foundations, reports the U.S. Department of Energy. Tackle these wasteful leaks by filling cracks and leaks with weather stripping. Typically there are gaps around windows, doors, light switches and outlets. Visit renewable energy site DSIRE to find tax and utility incentives for more extensive building upgrades, such as insulation and window replacements.
- Upgrade your HVAC unit.
Sometimes comfort comes down to replacing an old system. And now is a better time than ever to upgrade, with efficient heat pumps and new HVAC systems that use 20 percent less energy than those installed 10 or more years ago. For tips on how to purchase the best HVAC for your business, read “Five things to look for in a new HVAC system.”
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