Does it seem like your electricity consumption soars higher every year? Does the thought of keeping your business cool by running the A/C all summer give you the chills?
So, when the summer is in full swing, you might be wondering:
- How can you make sure your building runs efficiently, saves energy, improves your bottom-line, all while maintaining comfort for everyone inside?
- Is your business equipment outdated or inefficient?
- Is your building set up to be energy efficient?
Don't sweat it — we understand. You’re strapped for time, and probably have better things to do with your day than research all your options. We’ve shortlisted 6 easy ways to help you take charge of your business's energy this summer and beyond.
1. Big changes, big impact
- Your A/C is working overtime, so make sure when replacing or purchasing heavy air conditioning units, choose those with a high energy efficiency ratio, in line with the government’s Energy Efficiency Regulations (EER). Also make sure that your contractor selects the right sized system based on your building load and specific occupancy needs.
- When you’ve got a business to run, things like physically monitoring the thermostats are nothing short of a hassle. To conserve energy effortlessly this summer, installing smart thermostats that automatically adjust temperature settings based on the time of day and day of the week is a great place to start — it saves you money on your energy bill and reduces your carbon footprint.
- Day lighting control systems are worth exploring. They help to reduce lighting energy consumption, and lower cooling costs. The systems use sensors to adjust electric lighting levels in response to available daylight. If you already have these controls in place, check to make sure they’re properly calibrated and working as expected.
- During high energy demand times of the year, taking any measures to save costs can go a long way. If you haven’t made the switch to energy-efficient lighting yet, now’s the time! Energy-efficient bulbs, including halogen, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can make a world of difference. They use up to 80% less energy than conventional lighting and last up to 25 times longer.
- If your windows are old and permeable, consider investing in new, energy efficient ones. Even if they’re in decent shape, it’s important to thoroughly clean the tracks at least once a year – residue and dirt in the window frames affect the seal and allow air to escape.
2. Work smarter, not harder
- We never forget to turn the lights off when leaving a room at home, but it’s a different story at work! When you install dimmers and occupancy sensors in proper unobstructed locations, the lighting turns off automatically when it’s not needed.
- Crank open the windows in multiple rooms from time to time to let the breeze cool the building down and cross-ventilate. Skylights are also a great option to let warm air escape from above. But be smart about where your air is going — sealing air leaks alone can improve energy efficiency by a huge margin.
- Retractable awnings can be installed outside to shade windows when it’s hot, then retracted back up and out of sight once the sun goes down.
- The concept of night precooling is not often talked about, but is quite efficient. Consider cooling the building at night with outside air to lower the temperature inside. This will create a smaller cooling load during the day and also improve air quality for better occupant comfort.
- Most businesses use refrigerators that are subject to constant opening and closing, way more often than your midnight snack sessions at home. Make sure your fridge is energy efficient and stays cool, by cleaning the coils twice a year and replacing door gaskets as needed. If your business has a large or walk-in refrigeration system, make sure it’s serviced at least once a year, including cleaning, refrigerant top-off, lubrication of moving parts and an adjustment of the belts. For refrigerator display cases, consider getting anti-sweat door heater controls and evaporator fan motors to keep those many curious hands off the handle!
3. Free ways to save even more
- Phantom energy is wasted everywhere around us, all the time. So, unplug any “energy vampire” appliances that aren’t in use, or use a power strip’s on/off button to cut off power.
- During summertime, cut down cooling costs by setting your thermostats between 23-26 degrees during business hours, and above 26 degrees after hours. On weekends and non-working hours, adjust thermostats higher when cooling and lower when heating an occupied building or unoccupied areas within a building.
- You may even be able to set your thermostat up to 3 degrees higher if it’s offset with the use of shades, translucent/blackout blinds and fans to manage temperatures and make the space feel more comfortable and maintain healthy levels of humidity and air movement.
- Have you ever wondered how much the paper and printing at your business are costing you? Avoid unnecessary printing and when you do print, make it double-sided! This way, you’re not only cutting the energy required to run your printer, but also reducing paper waste.
- Since laptop computers are more efficient, with a maximum draw of 60 watts, they use 80% less energy than desktop computers, which can jump to 175 watts. Use laptops when possible, and to maximize savings, use a power strip that can be turned off.
- Which do you think is costlier in the long run — hand dryers or paper towel dispensers? Here’s the deal: the latter need to be refilled and disposed of, they’re a constant, recurring cost and more expensive than automatic hand dryers in the long run, so you know which to go for. And while you’re at it, make sure to opt for air dryers with HEPA filters. These remove most of the bacteria from the air so the hands are dried using cleaner air.
4. Maintenance goes a long way
- Even the best-in-class HVAC systems are prone to depreciation without regular maintenance. Before A/C usage ramps up, make sure to schedule your semi-annual HVAC maintenance that will involve inspections and tune-ups before the cooling season begins.
- Keeping up with HVAC maintenance also means regularly changing or cleaning air filters, heat exchanger surfaces, water and refrigerant coils, condensers and evaporators. Any issues like leaks in piping, air ducts, coils, fittings and at the unit must be immediately repaired.
- It's important to locate any leaks in your business to prevent costly cooling loss. Once detected, plug the leaks with weather stripping and caulking to allow you to more efficiently manage your ventilation.
5. Let nature help you help it
- What’s the most abundant and efficient resource in Alberta, that’s also free and renewable? The sun! So, cut the lights and let the sunshine in during the day to illuminate your workspace. Just be mindful of its impact on your business's temperature. During the summer, you can block direct heat from sunlight through windows on the east and west sides of your building.
- Sustainable landscaping is the gift that keeps giving. When landscaping for your business, choose plants that are native to Alberta, will require minimal watering and have strong pest resistance.
- There’s something about the presence of shady trees anywhere. They’re cooling in the summer heat, clean the air, and soothe the eyes. When you plant shady trees outside of your business, you’re more likely to keep your building cool and help filter the air. What’s better than stopping the heat surges before they even hit your window!
6. All or nothing
- Conserving energy for small businesses may start with the owner(s), but it takes cooperation from every employee to make your goals. Take the lead in educating everyone at your business to be energy-conscious, and encourage them to offer their own ideas. Employee buy-in and involvement is key to saving energy. By enabling an open dialogue around the issue, being energy-efficient becomes a part of the culture at your business.
And to enable YOU to advocate sustainable energy practices at your business, we’ve curated a one-page informational resource that lists all the measures above and which is downloadable and printable for your use!
If you're an ATCOenergy business customer, you can track your business's energy usage by logging into My Account. There, you can access all of your account information in one place, see your monthly usage, renew your contract in just a few clicks and access it all anytime, anywhere. By actively tracking your usage, you're more likely to save energy and money.
Not sure where to get started for an evaluation of your current energy efficiency? Our sister company Rümi offers Energy Audits to Alberta businesses to help them figure out where their top energy-saving areas are. Give our happiness advisors a call or connect with an ATCOenergy business energy expert in your area to book this service, or simply request a quote through the website.