Energy efficiency has become the big buzzword in connection with fighting climate change. And the larger your scale of energy use is, the bigger an impact you can have by making changes. While some changes are bigger than others (and some will require more of a long-term investment versus short-term upgrades), it’s important to consider all the options. Because cutting energy use means saving money on your monthly bills; it also improves your image, and helps you take your position as a community leader on an issue affecting everyone.
Energy Efficiency Area #1: Lighting
It’s basic energy efficiency policy to ensure that lights are turned off when no one is in the room; most offices, classrooms, etc. will have multiple banks of lights so you can only turn on a few of them to provide lighting for after hours cleaning, pre-workday setup, things like that. However, it’s important to go a step further when you can. Ask what changes you can make to your lighting system to improve energy use, and save money simultaneously.
For example, even if you’re only using them when you really need them, incandescent light bulbs are one of the most inefficient types of lighting on the market today. By replacing these bulbs with LED lights, you immediately cut your lighting energy demand by 90 percent according to Energy Star. The bigger your operation is, and the more lights you use, the bigger a change this is going to make. Don’t forget that LED lights can last for several years once you screw them in; that’s going to have a noticeable effect on your monthly operating budget.
Energy Efficiency Area #2: Heating and Cooling
Some of your biggest energy expenses are going to come from your heating and cooling system. They are a necessity for providing a comfortable environment; but there are things you can do to ease the burden they place on the power grid.
One small thing you can do include acquiring automated thermostats. These ensure you’re holding steady temperatures without any fiddling with the controls. Additionally, ensuring that vents are closed and doors are shut in areas of the building that aren’t being used helps minimize the draw on your system, and cut down on the energy you’re using. Proper cleaning and maintenance will also help ensure minimal issues, and wasted energy as SRP points out.
If you have the budget for larger changes, then installing updated, Energy Star grade appliances can make a big difference. Everything from furnaces to kitchen appliances can be streamlined and made to do more with less in terms of energy. And for those who want to start making the transition away from fossil fuels, then moving from gas-based to electricity-based appliances is a step in the right direction.
Energy Efficiency Area #3: Office Equipment
Another big draw on energy for any business or school is going to be the equipment used in the office. These tools are necessary to keep daily operations going; but it’s important to step back and ask what you’re using, and how you’re using it.
For instance, are computers set to go into energy efficient power saving mode once idle? Or do they simply run at full-functionality until someone turns them off? Do you have sleek laptops that can be used in the field as well as at a desk? Or do you have old, outdated desktops that use several times the energy of a more recent model? Do you have dozens of printers and copiers in service? You could, instead, create centralized hubs to use less energy.
While buying newer, more energy efficient tools is always a good option, sometimes you can save energy through establishing new policies as well. For example, attempting to go paperless may create more digital documents, but it will also reduce the need for copiers, toner, paper, ink, etc. Even if it’s something as small as posting the lunch menu on the school’s website, or circulating memos digitally, lots of little changes can have a big impact.
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