How to Quickly Correct an Inefficient Commercial Building
About 20 percent of all the energy consumed in the U.S. is because of commercial buildings. If commercial buildings could somehow be taken out of the equation, the United States would be a very different country. But that’s not an option, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be a good one.
Nevertheless, owners of commercial buildings have a duty to the public to curb their building’s energy use as much as possible and improve efficiency. There are a wide array of positive side effects when this is done. Chief among them is increasing both employee morale and your building’s value.
And here’s the thing most commercial building owners will love: it will also save you money each month.
To improve efficiency, you need to tackle the problem from all sides. In this article, we’ll discuss energy efficiency examples as well as other means you can use to improve your building’s energy consumption.
This Is How You Improve Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings
1. Measure Your Building’s Energy Consumption Before You Act
Don’t assume you know what the issue is. Look at your building as a whole, and take note of all the factors that could be increasing your building’s energy usage.
The main culprits for high energy consumption in commercial buildings usually are:
- Other electronics (such as printers, scanners, fax machines)
- Water heaters
- HVAC (cooling and heating)
The most expensive items for most buildings are lighting, heating, and cooling. Lighting makes sense because lights are always on somewhere, no matter the time of day. The HVAC system also makes sense because it’s usually running to keep the inside temperature uniform and static.
Together, these three account for almost 53 percent of your energy bill. To increase efficiency, spend most of your time with these.
2. Switch to LED Lights If You Haven’t Already
If your company isn’t already using LED lights, make the switch as soon as possible. Incandescent lighting uses way more energy than LED lights. In fact, the two aren’t even close. Businesses that switch to LED lights are able to improve energy efficiency overnight.
LED bulbs are more expensive than incandescents (they’re typically about $4 more per bulb), but they require a lot less KWH over time. An LED bulb will only consume about 8.5 watts, whereas an incandescent bulb will consume around 60. Over time, the cost-to-operate difference really stacks up.
Another thing you can consider when upgrading your lighting is installing sensors in seldom traveled areas. Why leave lights on in areas where people rarely travel? Plus, light sensors are easy to install and cheap to operate. If your commercial building is large enough to warrant them, there’s no reason not to incorporate them into your energy consumption savings plan to increase efficiency.
3. Upgrade to Energy Efficient Products
If you have numerous old refrigerators, microwaves, and hot water heaters in your building, it’s likely worth your while to look into replacing them. Energy Star-certified products can improve energy efficiency by up to 15 to 30 percent. They do cost significantly more than their counterparts, but they save massive amounts of energy over time.
If you use numerous computers in your commercial building, also consider looking at Energy Star-certified computers. Energy Star computers use 30 percent to 65 percent less energy than noncertified ones; however, just be sure to keep things in perspective. Computers consume far less energy than HVAC systems and lighting, so they should not be at the top of your list of priorities.
Energy efficiency examples are numerous, but the most commonly replaced items in commercial buildings include:
- Air purifiers.
- Clothes washers.
- Clothes dryers.
4. Install Smart Ventilation
A good ventilation system can save you money and reduce your energy consumption each month. If you don’t know when the last time your ventilation system was updated or maintained, it likely requires your attention.
A ventilation system’s primary job is to keep high-quality air moving through your building and prevent moisture from accumulating. It thus can reduce the buildup of mold and will likely help keep your employees healthier during cold and flu season.
To curb energy use and improve efficiency, make sure your ventilation system is a heat recovery ventilator system. These types of ventilators use outgoing air to warm incoming air from the outside during the winter. During the summer, they can also use the already-cooled air from your building to cool the incoming air from the outside. If your ventilation system is outdated, switch to a heat recovery system.
5. Increase Efficiency by Replacing and Improving Outdated Insulation
Insulation is meant to prevent outside temperatures from influencing inside temperatures. If it’s summer, good insulation can prevent hot, humid days from making your building uncomfortable.
Likewise, during the winter, good insulation will prevent your building from getting too cold. Top-notch insulation can make a building seem as if it’s on its own planet.
Proper insulation goes hand in hand with the HVAC system. The HVAC system’s job is to either heat or cool your building. If you know you have old and inefficient insulation, that is where all of your money is going. Your HVAC system is working overtime to keep ahead of incoming heat or loss of heat.
The most common problem areas for most buildings are the windows and doors. Doors are easy and relatively cheap to replace and upgrade. However, it’s unlikely your doors are the issue. The main culprit is probably your windows. Of course, windows are expensive to replace, especially for commercial buildings. They are usually custom cut and installed, making each panel hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to replace.
The good news is that there is a cost-effective, cutting-edge product on the market to help.
6. Invest in Some Quality Commercial Window Film
This is becoming a popular solution for commercial property owners looking to save money on energy costs. Windows are known to be inefficient, but consider using commercial window film to mitigate this.
Apply it directly to all of your commercial building’s windows, and you’ll feel the difference right away. The hot summer air won’t pierce through, nor will cold winter air seep in as much.. When your energy bill comes, you’ll most likely, see savings there as well.
The Department of Energy states that HVAC systems have to work 30 percent harder to keep buildings cool during the summer because of windows and 25 percent harder to keep them warm during the winter.
With 3M’s Thinsulate, you can reduce your heating and cooling expenses each season by as much as 10 percent.
Because of the application process and the materials and textures within, it doesn’t just reduce heating and cooling costs, but can also help protect you from:
- Glass shards in case of an explosion (because it keeps the glass together).
- Breaking and entering (because it’s more difficult to smash through).
- Graffiti (because it’s less expensive to clean).
In short, commercial window film can help keep you safe from all outside aggressors and vandals. It’s smart technology that protects you on a variety of fronts. If you’re looking to buy some, check out Thinsulate from 3M Window Film.
Keep Your Commercial Property Efficient
Your building’s energy efficiency comes down mainly to heating, cooling, and lighting. Though other variables exist and should be considered, to reduce your building’s carbon footprint and save you money, start with upgrading your lighting and protecting your windows with commercial window film.
Begin with these two things as they should be the priorities, and then fine-tune the rest later on.