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Seven Hacks for Reducing Energy Costs in 2015

If your strategic goals for 2015 include “grow the bottom line”, then reducing recurring costs is probably on the agenda. And for any organization with significant commercial space to maintain, energy costs are probably high on the list of recurring costs.

If this describes your organization, then we have just the Christmas present you’ve been hoping for: Seven Simple Hacks for painlessly reducing your energy costs in 2015.

The Four Big Energy Hogs to Address

For small business, heating and cooling is the #1 producer of energy cost. Close behind heating and cooling are vehicles, lighting, and equipment. Focus primary efforts on these four to see the greatest reductions in consumption—then move on to our three bonus hacks below.

One: Heating and Cooling Hacks

While average costs vary, heating and cooling generally represents a significant portion of energy use, especially if the business maintains warehouses, manufacturing facilities, or data centers.

A quick fix for many businesses is simply to turn the thermostat down in winter and up in summer. Even a change of 2 degrees can yield surprisingly large gains with minimum sacrifice. Be sure to have a maintenance technician give your systems a check-up. Clean filters and tuned-up equipment use less energy.

To dig deeper, investigate whether your utility company provides HVAC efficiency audits. With the EERS (Energy Efficiency Resource Standard) mandates in some states, many utility companies will provide audits and recommendations at no charge to the business owner, and some even have attractive financing and rebate programs that can create cash-flow-positive outcomes for the business owner.

Two: Vehicle Efficiency Hacks

Organizations that maintain even a small fleet understand that fuel represents a significant energy expenditure. Most companies can readily reduce this cost by taking a look at routes and consolidating use. Regular vehicle maintenance – especially as the season turns cold – can also yield significant savings. Clean fuel filters and tuned-up engines use less energy.

Consider inquiring with a leasing company regarding total cost of ownership for vehicles you currently have in stock. Sometimes the cost of owning and running older vehicles can be higher than the cost of acquiring new, more fuel-efficient stock.

Three: Lighting Hacks

Lighting is both a significant contributor to small business energy expenditure, and an easy fix. First, be sure you’ve transitioned all lighting to fluorescent, compact fluorescent, or LED bulbs. Many utilities provide rebates, discounts, and even free installations for more energy-efficient lighting. Check with your utility for programs you may be eligible for.

Consider investing in a computer controlled lighting system and automated dimming to reduce wasted usage. Have a technician or other employee inspect all light fixtures for cleanliness. Dirty bulbs can reduce brightness and cause employees to turn on more lights than are necessary.

Four: Equipment Powering Hacks

Companies with on-site data centers are familiar with the massive cost of running equipment, and many other businesses likewise run equipment essential to their business using grid power. In some cases, this equipment is the largest energy expenditure for the business.

Train employees to turn equipment off when not in use. Consider organizing work sessions so that equipment use is consolidated rather than spread out over the day. Invest in energy efficient models when purchasing and upgrading. And look for automatic shut-down features for those times when employees aren’t as invested in energy efficiency as you are.

Three Cheap Efficiency Hacks You’ve Probably Never Considered

While focusing on the Big Four alone will provide significant savings, these bonus hacks you will further ramp up your savings at little to no cost to your business.

Five: Install fans in employee-frequented areas

In summer, moving air reduces the “real feel” temperature by up to 4 degrees, enabling you to set the HVAC to a more efficient level without generating complaints from employees. In winter, reverse the direction of the fans to prevent draftiness. Circulating air improves the distribution of warmth and allows lower thermostat settings in winter. Properly installed ceiling fans and window box fans have been shown to decrease heating and cooling cost by up to 4%.

Six: Stop Using Screen Savers

It’s a common misconception that a computer’s screen saver consumes very little energy. In truth, the light produced by the screen saver sucks energy at almost the same rate as a computer in use. Train employees to turn computer equipment off when not in use, and you will see major energy reductions.

Seven: Install Power Strips in Work Stations

Many people think that when they turn an appliance or piece of equipment off, it immediately stops using energy. In most cases, even equipment in the “off†position continues to draw power, a phenomenon often referred to as “phantom draw”. Over the course of a year, phantom draws can account for significant unnecessary expense.

Installing power strips at each workstation – whether it’s a desk, salon chair, mechanic’s station, or other work location – can yield immediate and satisfying savings. Plug all equipment at each station into a single power strip, and train employees to turn off the power strip when leaving their station. The result is immediate cessation of phantom draw from every piece of equipment at that station.

What are your savings goals for 2015? We would love to hear your plans for energy efficiency, and answer your questions in the comments. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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