As a property manager or building owner, the cost of energy consumption for building operations will always to be a primary concern. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), commercial buildings in the United States account for 18 percent of U.S. energy consumption. The DOE claims that heating, air conditioning, ventilation (35 percent of total building energy) and lighting (11 percent) are the top four energy consumers in buildings.
Optimizing energy consumption in a building not only will help buildings owners save money, but will also help meet federal efficiency standards and minimize environmental impact. Here we’ve come up with 6 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Energy in Commercial Buildings. This includes office, retail and institutional buildings.
1. Use More Efficient Lighting
As a building owner, you’ll get the most energy savings or bang-for-your-buck by using more efficient lighting. The technology in lighting products has advanced significantly in the past several years. Incandescent bulbs were first replaced by florescent bulbs and tubes, and now florescent has been replaced by LED bulbs and tubes as the most energy efficient. Florescent bulbs are 75 percent more efficient than incandescent and last 20 times longer. LED bulbs are at least twice as efficient as florescent and last four times longer. Also LED bulbs do not need ballasts, precluding flickering and ballast replacements.
LED bulbs cost more than florescent bulbs, but this is quickly offset by the energy-cost savings. The savings usually payback the cost of the bulbs in a matter of weeks. LED bulbs come in different light intensities, from warm (more like florescent) to cool (brighter and whiter) to daylight (very bright white light). You should compare different colors before choosing, as some people prefer the warmer colors for inside lighting.
2. Turn Off Office Equipment
Electric energy required for air conditioning can be reduced by decreasing the internal heat from lighting and office equipment. LED lights give off significantly less heat than either florescent and incandescent lighting. Computers, printers and copiers should be in the econo mode or turned off during unoccupied periods, as should lights. Lights can be controlled with inexpensive occupancy sensors.
3. Make Sure AC Control Operates Correctly
Proper control plays a major role in air-conditioning system efficiency. For example, codes require that fresh air is introduced into the inside environment. Too much fresh air, resulting from inadequate or poorly operating controls, substantially increases the load on the air-conditioning system. To illustrate, the amount of energy required to cool recirculated 75-degree air verses cooling 90-degree outside air is much less. It takes 75 percent more energy to cool the 90-degree air verses the 75-degree air.
4, Reduce Solar Heat Gain
Solar heat gain through windows is significant in most office buildings. By reducing this source of heat, the electric energy to cool the building will also be reduced. This can be accomplished by installing awnings above the windows on the sunny sides of the building or installing solar window film. The window film is designed to block much of the solar radiation that would normally come through the glass and heat the interior. This is much more effective than blinds, which still let the solar radiation through. And most blinds reflect very little solar heat.
5. Improve Air Conditioning Efficiency
Air-conditioning system efficiencies have significantly increased over the years through technological advances. A decrease in energy consumption is achieved by utilizing current technology. The savings will depend on what you have and whether you make small tweaks or larger ones.
6. Take Advantage of Solar Electricity
Solar electric systems are a viable option to offset part of the energy required to cool and light a commercial office building and power computers, printers and other electrical gismos. The federal government helps pay for these systems by providing commercial building owners with a tax credit
In August 2022, Congress passed an extension of the solar investment tax credit. The credit is 30 percent for solar photovoltaic systems starting construction 2022-2032 and 26 percent for those starting construction in 2033. For systems that begin construction in 2034, the tax credit is 22 percent.
Some local utilities and some states also provide incentives. The tax credits and other incentives make it fairly easy to justify investing in a solar energy system in most areas of the country, the biggest variable being the utility rates.
We hope that the above six ways to reduce the cost of energy provide ideas that you as a building owner can implement into your energy-efficiency plan. By using even one or two of the above ideas, you’ll be one step ahead to reducing the cost of energy in your building. And if you’re ever in need of an energy efficiency expert witness, give Ivey Engineering a call today.