Energy Tips for your Business
Follow these guidelines to save your business money and energy.
Search by category to find expert recommendations for commercial customers like you.
Capture Energy Loss
Make your facility’s equipment work for you. From facilitating heat transfer to recovering waste heat and identifying and repairing leaks, explore the many ways to maximize energy efficiency.
Use variable speed drives on pumps, fans, and compressors operating at varying loads.
This will reduce peak and off-peak energy costs.
In plants with multiple cooling towers and chillers, run all the water over the tower fills when possible.
In plants with multiple cooling towers and chillers, facilitate heat transfer by running all the water over the tower fills rather than just a single tower.
Fix infiltration leaks wherever possible.
Examine seal outlets and gaps between moldings, as well as plumbing and wiring penetrations. Additional checkpoints include hatches, plumbing vents, chimneys and other roof or wall penetrations. Many areas can be sealed by caulking. Use foam sealants for larger areas.
Use steam turbines to capture energy losses from pressure-reducing valves (PRVs).
PRVs can be bypassed by back-pressure turbines, which exhaust steam at the same pressure as the PRV. For example, turbines can be used to drive a generator, pump, chiller or compressor. A back-pressure turbine operating at 250 psi supply and 15 psi exhaust, expanding 20,000 Btu of steam per hour, can drive a generator producing as much as 129 kw. If this turbine operates for 6,000 hours per year, the electricity produced could be worth as much as $40,000.
When practical, recover and reuse waste heat from air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
Waste heat capturing equipment includes:
- hot gas desuperheaters
- double-bundle condensers
- auxiliary condensers
Recover Flash Steam.
Whenever medium- or high-pressure steam boilers are used, there will be flash steam in the condensate system. This flash steam contains valuable energy that can be recovered. High- and medium-pressure steam is used in many types of structures, including hospitals, universities and industrial facilities. Good uses for the recovered heat are to preheat domestic hot water or to preheat returned hot water from the building’s heating system. Approximately 5-15% of returned condensate will flash to steam at approximately 5 psi. If this steam is vented to atmosphere, the heat is wasted.
Find and fix faulty steam traps.
Steam traps are automatic valves that release condensed steam from a boiler as they prevent the loss of live steam. They can commonly become stuck in the open position, resulting in significant excess energy use. Ultrasonic leak detectors are designed to detect faulty traps. By isolating sound frequencies, these tools compare the detected frequencies to those of properly functioning traps, and offer users an analysis via digital display.
Consider load shifting via a thermal energy storage system.
To reduce energy demand during periods of high-energy use, consider load shifting. Using a thermal energy storage system, capture off-peak electricity during periods of low-energy use and use that energy later, during periods of high energy demand.
Don’t waste flash steam by venting into the atmosphere.
Various industries use high- and medium-pressure steam containing valuable energy that can be recovered. Use that steam to preheat domestic hot water or returned hot water from the building’s heating system.
Consider a heat recovery system for dryers.
By utilizing an air-to-air heat exchanger in the dryer, heat recovery systems make use of waste heat by allowing incoming air to be heated by a dryer’s exhaust. They can reduce the amount of energy needed to heat dryers by up to 50%.
Learn tips for best practices, properly designed supplemental cooling and how to calculate the power requirements for your data systems.
Implement cooling best practices in data centers.
According to Emerson Network Power, the top priority in any data center is to use precision cooling. Second is to optimize air flow. You can do this by arranging racks in a hot-aisle/cold-aisle configuration, by reducing air recirculation and by using ducts to return hot air to the cooling unit. Continually monitor your systems and conduct thermal assessments to make sure you stay on track.
Make sure your data center’s supplemental cooling system is properly designed.
According to Emerson Network Power, properly designed supplemental cooling has been shown to reduce data center cooling energy costs by 35-50% compared to perimeter cooling only.
Think in threes when calculating the power requirements for your data systems.
In order to calculate the power requirements for your data systems, you’ll need data regarding the power required by the cooling system, the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, and the IT loads of the center. According to Cisco Systems, Inc., while the power requirements of these elements may vary, they can be estimated accurately once the power requirements of the projected IT load are determined. This calculation can also be used to estimate the power output capacity needed for a standby generator.
Heating & Cooling
Learn ways to reuse thermal energy, minor improvements to your HVAC that can yield big savings, tips to maximize boiler efficiency and more.
Use ceiling fans in summer and winter.
In summer, ceiling fans help cool a space. In colder months, reverse the direction of the fan and use ceiling fans to circulate the hot air gathered in the ceiling area. Moving air can feel 3 degrees to 5 degrees cooler than non-moving air and can save you 3% on cooling costs.
Do not overlook minor improvements to the HVAC mechanical system.
- Install flue dampers or balance the ventilation system to reduce exhaust rate
- Relocate thermostat and install fans to keep hot air off the ceiling
- Install thermostats in hot water tanks
Get “free” hot water when you’re cooling.
Many opportunities exist to reuse thermal energy within a building. For instance, rejected waste heat from air conditioning or refrigeration equipment can often be used to serve building needs. To capture waste heat, hot gas desuperheaters, double-bundle condensers and auxiliary condensers can be used on almost every type of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
If you use patio heaters, consider infrared electric radiant heaters.
Electric, radiant heaters are nearly 100% efficient and, unlike gas heaters, do not emit carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide or other toxins. Based on the same principle as the sun, electric, radiant heaters warm the objects in their range—not the air between the heater and the object. By using radiant heat energy, these heaters instantly warm the people and objects within the beam of heat. For this reason, they also work well in the wind.
Inspect and maintain boilers.
The cost of boiler maintenance pays for itself in energy savings. To ensure peak efficiency, remove scale, replace leaky tubes and flanges, remove damaged insulation and control linkages, and recalibrate controls regularly.
Install a boiler economizer
The installation of an economizer, a device that preheats the feedwater (returned condensate), can increase the efficiency of a boiler by 2-3%.
Keep boiler insulation in good condition.
For peak efficiency, repair or replace damaged or missing boiler insulation.
Match a boiler’s size to its load.
Even if analysis illustrates that a boiler is operating efficiently, boilers are often oversized and under-utilized during the summer. Your facility may want to consider augmenting its water heating system with a smaller, properly sized boiler for reduced load conditions.
Raise the thermostat on AC without causing discomfort to occupants.
Most systems are set to 72-75 degrees F and 50% relative humidity. By raising the thermostat to 78 degrees F and 55% relative humidity, you can reduce the energy required for cooling by roughly 13%.
Reduce pumping power in cooling systems.
This can be accomplished by eliminating bypass valves and three-way valves; removing auto flow valves, pressure regulating valves and other flow restrictors, and opening balancing valves at the pump.
Add electric radiant heat to warehouses.
Installing electric radiant heaters in areas frequented by employees or workers will keep occupants warm without excessive heat loss. Adding a timer or occupancy sensor to the heater will keep even a small area from being heated if there’s no one in it.
Calibrate pneumatic thermostats every 3-6 months to avoid loss of efficiency.
Clean and maintain the HVAC mechanical system regularly for greatest (to maximize) efficiency.
Check for dirty coils and filters that restrict air flow, loose fan belts, outside air dampers that don’t close correctly and improperly functioning control valves.
Consider an electric heat pump system.
In areas with a moderate to warm climate, a heat pump system can do the job of a standard electric water heater while using half the electricity. Heat pumps also transfer heat from your facility’s interior into its water tank, reducing the load on your HVAC system.
Consider electronic air cleaners in building air handling units instead of standard bag or cartridge filters
Electronic air cleaners have low, constant air resistance. This low static pressure helps keep energy costs down. A standard filter’s air resistance increases as it gets dirty–increasing fan static pressure, and causing the motor to work harder.
Consider water-loop heat pumps.
Applications for water-loop heat pump systems include schools, medical centers, hotels, offices and even small airports. There are opportunities for energy recovery from core areas and from simultaneous heating/cooling situations. The energy recovered can be redistributed to space conditioning and domestic water heating. Costs are typically low for installing, operating and maintaining these systems, and they are adaptable to future energy sources, such as solar heating.
Decrease your building’s heating set point to 70 degrees when occupied and to 62 degrees when unoccupied.
According to www.ecova.com, estimated savings for a 240,000-square-foot building are over $25,000/year.
Keep your energy costs down and keep guests comfortable. Learn more about occupancy sensors, laundering during off-peak times and smart ways to book rooms.
Install occupancy sensors and automated controls in hotel guest rooms to control temperature and lighting.
Set-back thermostats use passive infrared sensors to detect occupants within a hotel room. Guests set the temperature they like to maintain when the room is occupied. However, when the room is empty, the temperature returns to a predetermined set point.
Operate laundry services during off-peak times.
Take advantage of peak-use pricing and operate your laundry services during off-peak times. This will also help reduce the load on your facility’s system.
Ozone laundering systems offer big savings over conventional laundry systems.
They use cold water (vs. hot water) and well as less water, energy and detergent. Ozone laundry systems have a 20-year projected life span and depending on the size and volume of your facility, can reach payback in 1 to 2 years.
Discover where and how to insulate walls, windows and roofs, plus the proper way to repair exterior cracks and holes.
Pipe insulation will keep cold water pipes from sweating (water vapor condensing on the pipe surface) in warm weather and reduce heat loss from hot water pipes. Moisture is known to contribute to types of corrosion, so preventing condensation from forming on pipework is important. Insulation will also help keep those water pipes located outside from freezing when the ambient temperature drops below freezing.
Insulate any uninsulated brick walls for significant energy savings.
Uninsulated brick walls are common in buildings constructed before 1960. You can insulate them using one of three common methods: furring, insulating the cavity or insulating the exterior. Furring is the simplest and least expensive, and provides a finished wall surface. It generally involves framing the interior with studs or runners, placing insulation between the runners and finishing the wall surface.
Make sure that aluminum windows have thermal breaks for proper insulation.
Aluminum windows should have an insulating section — a thermal break — between the inner and outer aluminum sections of the frames. This basic feature reduces thermal conductivity of the metal to the same level as wood.
Seal exterior cracks and holes, and ensure tight-fitting windows.
Seemingly small cracks or holes in the building exterior (like walls, windows, doors, ceiling, and floors) can add up to substantial heating or cooling losses. Install weather stripping and caulking to repair air leaks.
Add roof insulation.
One of the most cost-effective conservation measures available is to add roof insulation–including a vapor barrier–when you’re replacing a roof. For historic property or new construction, the cost of adding insulation results in a rapid payback.
Learn smart solutions for controlling costs and lighting only what you need, a surprising benefit to installing skylights and how upgrading your fixtures can yield big savings long-term.
Use occupancy sensors to turn lights on/off automatically in low-traffic spaces.
This includes rooms such as restrooms, break rooms, supply rooms, and locker rooms.
Install motion-activated nightlights in bathrooms.
Customers often leave bathroom lights on. By providing a motion-activated light you can reduce the need for full on lighting.
Light only what you need: Use bi-level lighting controls.
Appropriate for offices, classrooms, and meeting or conference rooms, bi-level switching allows occupants to turn on a group of fixtures–such as half the lights or a third of the lights–when using all the lights is unnecessary.
Add skylights to your facility if feasible.
Adding skylights allows for daylighting, which decreases energy use. Studies show that increased daylight also increases employee productivity.
Update to TLED.
If your lighting system uses energy magnetic ballasts and “watt miser” lamps, you could upgrade to a TLED system for further savings.
Balance ballast costs with bulb life cost savings.
Fixtures that have state-of-the-art lamps or ballasts (T8 lamps, electronic ballasts, etc.) often require a higher premium at relamping or re-ballasting time. Much of this cost is offset by their longer life, the reduction of replacement component costs and reduced maintenance costs.
Consider the cost of energy when retrofitting lighting systems.
Remember that on a life cycle basis, the least expensive part of the system is the fixture and lamp. The most expensive component is the energy that the system uses.
Keep your plants and facilities functioning efficiently.
Analyze a plant’s compressed air requirements over time.
Plants with wide variations in air demand need a system that operates efficiently under part-load. In such cases, multiple compressors with sequencing controls may provide a more economical operation option. Plants with a more consistent load profile are able to use more simple control strategies.
Consider a thermal storage system when designing your chiller plant.
A thermal storage tank allows you to run chiller equipment off-peak and store cooled water or ice, then draw on this cooling during peak times.
Keep your facility’s motors running with these tips. Learn the keys to motor management, how to assess your motor’s efficiency, and the Department of Energy’s advice for improving motor reliability and efficiency.
Motor management matters.
Motor management helps reduce downtime, decreases energy costs and improves productivity. The keys to good motor management:
- Having guidelines for proactive repair/replacing
- Purchasing policies based on lifecycle costing
- Repair policies and best practice repair
- Having a spare motor inventory
- Predictive and preventive maintenance planning
- Implementing a motor survey and tracking program
Following these steps will help you understand your true costs, plan ahead in case of motor failure and ensure you have the right motor on hand when you need it.
Measure output of hot-running motors.
A hot running motor is a sign of age or of an unhealthy motor. It also indicates inefficiency and/or below average performance. To assess the motor’s true efficiency, measure the motor’s actual output versus the current.
Address power quality problems.
To improve motor reliability and efficiency, www.energy.gov suggests you maintain the correct voltage and phase balance, identify and eliminate current leaks, and prevent harmonics in the electrical supply. The DOE also suggests having an electrical engineer review the electrical system. Conduct an inspection before installing a new motor or after you’ve made changes to your system or system loads.
Choose a motor with a sufficient horsepower rate.
Most motors operate at 75% of the horsepower rate shown on their accompanying nameplate. An oversized motor is often more efficient than a smaller motor operating at driving load.
Energy efficient motors matter. Use NEMA standards to guide you.
Every NEMA standard polyphase Design B motor below 150 hp (and many well above that) has an efficiency value stamped on its nameplate. That value is a “nominal” value that is representative of that particular design. For every such value, a “minimum,” or guaranteed value, is published in NEMA standards. For that reason, when comparing brands, it’s best to use NEMA’s ratings as a guide. While some motor lines may offer efficiencies far above the NEMA “energy efficient” value; some “standard” motor lines may also reach high levels for some ratings. Let your specific economic analysis point you toward the best solution for you.
Learn how proper insulation and investing in energy efficient systems can provide lasting comfort and long-term savings.
With walls, roofs and floors, think “opaque.”
To provide comfort and energy efficiency, be sure to adequately insulate walls, roofs, and floors according to your climate zone. Doing so will provide occupant comfort and increase energy efficiency. Pay special attention to the roof. Roofs are vulnerable to solar heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.
When constructing a new building or replacing older systems, consider installing a variable speed drive chiller and/or a geothermal heat pump.
They operate up to 30% more efficiently than the industry average. Geothermal heat pumps may cost more to install than conventional HVAC equipment, but they cost less to operate than conventional HVAC systems.
Get the most out of your commercial equipment and reduce energy loss with these helpful tips. Encourage team members to implement these guidelines for managing energy use, from the kitchen to the dining room.
Know the high cost of inappropriately preheating cooking equipment.
Preheating is a common and costly practice. The typical time to preheat most cooking equipment is short–usually 10 to 15 minutes–and some equipment, such as griddles and broilers, require little or no preheating time. Investigate the exact preheating times for all of your equipment, and post the preheat times near the equipment. Train employees to preheat accordingly.
Keep your chiller’s coils clean for better performance and energy efficiency.
A chiller’s performance is affected by its ability to transfer heat efficiently. If the evaporator and condenser tubes are dirty, it will decrease a chiller’s ability to transfer heat and subsequently increase the compressor’s energy consumption by 30% or more.
Install instrumentation to monitor a chiller’s kW/ton performance in real-time.
Monitoring a chiller’s kW/ton performance offers additional optimization opportunities and is often achieved for little additional cost. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a true-power kW sensor, which incorporates voltage, amperage and power factor measurements, should be selected to monitor chiller power. For whole plant monitoring, variable frequency drives often offer an economical way to monitor power consumption of smaller, lower-priority loads such as pumps and towers.
Match the pan size to the element size when using an electric cooktop.
A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner can waste up to 40% of the heat produced.
Replace damaged or missing strip curtains on walk-in coolers and freezers.
Well-functioning strip and/or swinging plastic door curtains are a low-cost way to keep cold air from escaping from walk-in coolers. This reduces freezer compressor run times, which saves energy and extends the life of the compressor. Strip curtains also keep warm, moist air from entering the freezer.
Use candlelight in dining rooms during evening hours.
Not only does using candlelight increase a dining room’s ambiance, it saves your restaurant or food service facility money in energy costs. Use it when appropriate.
Replace light switches in walk-in refrigerators and freezers with occupancy sensors.
Replacing light switches with occupancy sensors in walk-in refrigerators and freezers can save nearly $200 a year in energy costs and reduce the load on the compressor.
Serve meals on one large plate instead of several smaller ones to reduce dishwashing.
By serving meals on a single, larger plate, restaurants and food service operations can save energy costs by reducing the number of plates and dishes that need to be washed.
Install refrigerators away from heat sources.
Don’t overwork refrigerators by placing them close to heating vents, kitchen ranges or dishwashers.
Save thousands of dollars annually by outfitting energy-efficient equipment in your facility’s kitchen.
A typical restaurant or food services facility will save up to $15,000 a year by outfitting its kitchen with energy-efficient or ENERGY STAR® qualified equipment.
Add glass doors to multideck display cases.
Along with helping save up to 50% in energy costs, glass doors on multi-deck display cases reduce cold air spillage, keep compressors from working overtime and increase customer comfort.
Clean heat exchangers and perform routine maintenance on refrigerating equipment.
This will ensure efficient operation and reduce energy costs.
Don’t overlook ice machines when attempting to reduce energy consumption.
To reduce energy costs, turn off ice machines when practical. Additionally, be sure to clean an ice machine’s cooling units regularly. To help reduce maintenance costs, consider models that are self-cleaning.
Learn smart ways to save water and energy, from setting a constant temperature to which high-efficiency equipment we recommend for your facility.
Install low-flow faucets, showerheads and dishwashing equipment in any on-site facilities.
Repair any water leaks promptly.
If your water pressure exceeds 40 to 50 psi, install a pressure-reducing valve and reduce energy costs.
If gauges indicate your water pressure is too high, consider having a plumber install a pressure-reducing valve on the main service. This valve will restrict the amount of hot water that flows from a tap and reduce energy costs.
Install water-saving showerheads.
Nozzles create the experience of a 3 to 4 gallon per minute shower, but use significantly less than 2 gallons per minute.
Set water temps to 120° F outside kitchen areas.
In the kitchen, code often requires higher water temperatures. However, setting water temps to 120° F outside the kitchen area will help reduce energy consumption and control expenses.
Save on energy costs with high-efficiency compressor systems.
Utilizing high-efficiency compressor systems can result in significant savings–roughly 6% for ice machines and as much as 16% for reach-in freezers.
Easy fixes that don't cost money
Discover small changes that can make a big difference in energy usage. Whether you work with students or staff members, learn how you can identify and implement strategies to teach and ensure compliance.
Allow elevators to shut down slowly.
To conserve energy, allow elevators to “time out” and shut down slowly. They should idle long enough for the power consumption to be equal to, or barely less than, the power consumed in starting the motor generator.
Get students involved in saving energy
As a group, students are one of the biggest energy users in a school or on a campus. Use outreach, educational and incentive programs to get them involved in energy reduction.
Perform your own energy audits regularly.
An energy audit helps you understand how your facility uses various forms of energy — including electricity, gas, and other utilities — and helps you identify waste or inefficiency. By identifying on-peak and off-peak periods, you can use information from audits to take advantage of various rate structures.
Properly light hallways and corridors.
Energy-saving TLEDs make sense in larger, occupied spaces, but their output is unnecessary in closets and hallways. Use Energy Star certified LED lightbulbs to save money and energy. Also consider installing dimmers and/or timers that would reduce hallway light levels by up to 30% during daylight hours.
Install vending machine controls to cut power consumption by an average of 50%.
Vending machine controls can be used to cycle refrigeration compressors on and off based on a predetermined temperature range. After hours or at times when a space is unoccupied, vending machine controls can turn off vending machine lighting, and turn it back on when motion is detected.
Reduce or remove bulbs in vending machines.
Where practical, remove bulbs from vending machines that are lit unnecessarily. Using automatic sensors to control vending machine lighting is also an option.
Reduce energy waste in boiler operations using O2 trimmers.
Most boilers use more air than necessary for combustion, thereby wasting energy. O2 trimmers adjust the amount of air supplied to the burner, improving efficiency. For example, the installation of an O2 trim system would result in an increase in efficiency of 1 to 2 percent for a 250 hp boiler running 2,000 hours per year. That’s equivalent to an energy cost savings of about $1,700. Initial cost of a unit for a package boiler of this size is approximately $9,000. If the boiler ran for more than 2,000 hours per year, the savings would be correspondingly higher.
Use window tint or reflective coatings to minimize unwanted solar heat gain.
The further south your facility is located, and the higher the percentage of glass wall space, the more important it becomes to block solar energy and avoid heat gain. In buildings with large areas of south-facing glass, heat gain can cause serious problems in maintaining comfort levels. Window tints or reflective coatings can reflect up to 90% of solar heat striking the window. They can provide savings in all but the most northern climates, where heat gain is desirable, helping to reduce winter heat load significantly. Generally, buildings with more than 25% glass wall space can benefit from solar control glass.
Reduce the amount of paving around a building by adding landscaping.
This will help keep buildings cooler in summer.
In facilities such as congregations and schools, keep track of how meeting space and classrooms are used.
Using appropriately-sized meeting spaces for the number of occupants gathered will save you money on heating and/or cooling and lighting. Tracking meeting room usage will help you recognize patterns and help you identify how best to schedule gatherings and increase energy efficiency.
Work with housekeeping and custodial staff to ensure lights aren’t left on needlessly.
Develop an informal or even a formal monitoring plan, which can include incentives or rewards for turning lights off after hours. Consider making compliance part of housekeeping, contractors or staff performance measures.
Monitor and maintain uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system batteries.
According to Liebert Services failure tracking, more than a third of all uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system failures are caused by battery related failures. Monitor and maintain your UPS and its batteries either via manual tests or via remote monitoring and management software.
Match the size of the job to the size of the equipment.
Combi-ovens, turbo-ovens, and connectionless steamers can speed cooking times and save both water and energy.
Replace old vending machines with newer, more efficient models.
If you work with a vending machine company, it should be able to help you evaluate possible upgrades of your current vending machines. ENERGY STAR® qualified vending machines use about 40% less energy and keep beverages as standard machines.
To reduce emissions, use electric forklifts.
Using electric forklifts will not only reduce emissions and make your operation greener, it will also save you money on ventilation.
Check pool water temperatures regularly to ensure heaters are working properly.
A high-water temperature can indicate a heater that’s overheating the water. The National Swimming Pool Foundation recommends that the pool temperature be set between 78 and 84°F, depending on the pool’s usage.
Consult energy experts.
Take advantage of Georgia Power’s expert advice and services. We offer technical energy audits, payback calculations, cost comparisons and rate analyses.
Continually inspect the building envelope for signs of deterioration.
Inspecting building envelope components should be part of your facility’s overall operations and maintenance plan. Your plan should include a visual survey, repairs of any detected deterioration (such as cracks in roofs and walls insulation) and inspecting windows for leaks.
Cover pools and hot tubs when not in use to prevent heat loss.
Covering a heated pool can save 50-70% in energy consumption. It can also reduce water loss and prevent the loss of 35-60% of the chemicals used to treat the water.
Create an organizational energy management manual.
Create a document that employees or occupants can reference for compliance and guidance around your organization’s energy management policy. Update the document as needed to reflect energy reduction wins and new policies or procedures.
Perform regular after hours facility walk throughs.
Walk through the facility after operating hours to identify energy waste, check settings on equipment, establish a list of energy shut-down/off procedures and review your findings with plant managers and employees. Continue to inspect the plant, systems and equipment to ensure adherence to energy reducing procedures.
Exit signs can be a fast way to cut costs.
Replacing your 10, or 20 watt incandescent lamps in your facility’s exit signs with Light Emitting Diode (LED)-powered signs leads to savings. LEDs are easier to maintain, last longer, and are less expensive than their incandescent and neon light counterparts. ENERGY STAR estimates an LED-powered exit sign costs $50 less per year to operate than an incandescent sign.