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Summertime Energy-Saving Tips For Businesses

The bottom line of running a successful business is to make all your dollars count. Cutting back unnecessary energy use keeps hard-earned money in your pocket. This is especially important now as Californians face more critical energy shortages and the possibility of rolling blackouts.

Here are many ideas, including some you can put to work in minutes at no cost to you to good energy saving investments when you are ready to replace equipment or do remodeling.

Check out the Incentives and Rebates available to you from the State and your local utility.


General Tips

Whenever possible, don't use large equipment during the peak hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Turn equipment and lights off after hours.

Always choose ENERGY STAR® products whenever possible.

Set energy-saving features on all your office equipment to put them into sleep mode when not in use.

An energy audit might be the best investment you can make for your business.


Cooling and Ventilation Systems - Improve Efficiency

Set the thermostat in your workspace to 78 degrees during work hours, and raise the setting to 85 degrees when the space is unoccupied. The energy savings can be significant - as much as 2 percent of your air conditioning costs for each one degree that you raise the thermostat. If all businesses in California set their thermostats to a higher temperature, the State would save 770 megawatts for every 2 degrees.

Use a programmable thermostat and make it easy to adjust the settings as well as regulate the temperature when you are closed to avoid unnecessary cooling costs. Consider a locking cover over the thermostat to avoid having employees change temperature settings.

Close window blinds to shade your rooms from direct sunlight.

Allow your workers to wear comfortable clothing during hot weather. It makes little sense to keep a room cold enough that workers must wear suits and coats.

To save energy, keep your exterior and freight doors closed as much as possible. Consumers frequently complain about retailers who run their air conditioning on high to keep their stores as cold as possible while leaving their doors wide open.

Keep your cooling and ventilation systems tuned. Maintain a regular filter replacement and cleaning schedule. Don't forget to check ducts and pipe insulation.

Install window film, solar screens or awning in south and west facing windows.

Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. Vist the International Window Film Association for more information. (Save 5-10%)

Install ceiling fans - they make it feel at least four degrees cooler during the summer.

When buying new cooling and ventilation units - choose ENERGY STAR. They are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than older models.

Rewire restroom fans to operate when the lights are turned on.

Install an air conditioning-economizer to bring in outside air when it's cool.

Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.

If possible, install ceiling and wall insulation. You will save money on your monthly utility bills and your employees will be more comfortable.

Install ENERGY STAR labeled reflected "Cool Roof" roofing materials.


Lighting - The Right Light for the Right Task

Many offices, stores or factories can easily reduce lighting without affecting productivity. Turn off as many unnecessary lights as possible. Use task lighting instead of overhead lighting, and light only those areas that are needed at the time. Providing the right lighting can save up to 15 percent on your lighting bill.

Again, make sure that equipment and lights are turned off after hours.

Replace old fluorescent lights with newer, more efficient models with electronic ballasts (such as retrofit T12 lights with magnetic ballasts to T8 lights and electronic ballasts).

Replace your high-use incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. A compact fluorescent light uses 75 percent less electricity to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb. The compact fluorescent will last about 10,000 hours as opposed to the 600 to 1,000 hour average life of an incandescent. By replacing a 100-watt incandescent with an equivalent 25-watt compact fluorescent, you can save more than $90 per bulb in electricity costs over the 10,000-hour lifetime of the compact fluorescent.

Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces are cleaned regularly. By removing grease, dust and other dirt, you can increase the output of your lights.

Install automatic, occupancy sensor room-lighting controls to turn lights on or off depending on occupancy or time of day.

Change out incandescent or fluorescent exit signs with LED exit signs.


Computers and Other Office Equipment

Turn off your computers and any other office equipment when you're not using them, especially overnight and weekends. This practice costs nothing and can potentially save as much as $44 per year, per computer, depending on what you pay per kilowatt-hour. "Smart" power strips are being marketed that sense the presence or absence of office workers and turn the attached equipment on and off accordingly.

For computer protection during a power curtailment, your company might invest in "Uninterruptible Power Supplies," (also known as UPS systems) which combine surge protectors and battery packs. These will run a computer for a short time to allow a worker to save files and prevent the loss of information when the power goes out.

To be as energy efficient as possible, only buy office equipment that displays the ENERGYSTAR logo.

Choose settings that automatically switch the computer monitor into sleep or "power-down" mode when it hasn't been worked on for a preset amount of time. Shorten the delay time before your monitor automatically goes into sleep mode.

Consider having employees use lap top computers since they use up to 90 percent less energy than a standard computer.

If it works for your business, consider ink-jet printers which also use 90 percent less energy than laser printers.

Purchase the proper sized copier for your business needs.

Choose a flat-panel computer monitor rather than a regular cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor. Some flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors use considerably less electricity than comparably-sized CRT models, but the extra first cost is still much more than the lifetime energy savings. However, prices for LCD monitors have been dropping, so they may be cost effective. If you have to buy a CRT monitor, buy the smallest monitor that will meet your needs. The bigger the monitor, the more energy it uses. For example, a 17-inch monitor consumes 35 percent more electricity than a 14-inch monitor.


Food Service and Refrigeration Equipment

Fully load cooking equipment to use energy efficiently. However, be careful not to overload beyond the recommended capacity.

Keep pots covered to reduce heat loss.

Remember, keep refrigerators full too. A full refrigerator retains the cold longer and will cycle on less frequently.

If ice makers are used in your business, reduce your energy costs by choosing the right one for the job.

Preheat cooking equipment at the manufacturer's recommended setting.

Keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up with regular maintenance. Check levels of oil and refrigerant.

Turn off backup fryers and ovens during low production periods.

Use insulated night covers on display cases.

Install automatic door-closers and strip curtains on walk-in freezers or coolers.

Make sure oven doors fit tightly by adjusting door latches, and that gaskets are in good condition.

Buy insulated cooking equipment when possible since insulation keeps more heat in the equipment instead of the room.

Consider replacing broilers with smooth or grooved griddles... your energy consumption will be significantly reduced.