Stamp out energy waste

There are some practices that aren’t just good, they’re the best. And the ideas below are based on best practices from leading ENERGY STAR partners who know how to trim their energy waste with nothing more invested than time and elbow grease. But remember … low-hanging fruit grows back quickly. Have a plan for how to monitor and maintain savings to avoid snapback.

Find best practices for:

Operations and maintenance

  • Conduct a nighttime audit to find out what’s on afterhours that shouldn’t be.
  • Improve operations and maintenance practices by regularly checking and maintaining equipment to ensure it’s functioning efficiently.
  • Optimize start-up time, power-down time, and equipment sequencing.
  • Revise janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each day.
  • Perform monthly maintenance of heating and cooling equipment to guarantee efficient operation throughout the year.
  • Review and emphasize the financial and environmental results of a preventative maintenance program for major systems and components.
  • Set goals and a methodology to track and reward improvements.
  • Visually inspect insulation on all piping, ducting and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.).

Lighting

  • Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight is sufficient. This can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.
  • Maximize daylighting. After all, sunlight is free! Open or close blinds to make the best use of natural daylight and take advantage of skylights or other natural daylight sources to reduce lighting during daytime hours.
  • Use task lighting where feasible.
  • Implement a regular lighting maintenance program.
  • Remove unnecessary lamps (de-lamp) in overlit areas. Check your light levels against standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) to see if you have areas that are over- or under-lit.

Office equipment

  • Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. To enable this function, visit www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.
  • Turn off printers, copiers, and fax machines when they’re not in use. A copier left on all day and night costs more than $150 annually.
  • Install vending machine misers to reduce annual operating costs by $300 per year.

Heating and cooling

  • Set back the thermostat in the evenings and other times when the building isn’t occupied.
  • Regularly change or clean HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
  • Adjust thermostats for seasonal changes.
  • Use shades and blinds to control direct sun through windows in both summer and winter to prevent or encourage heat gain.
  • Control direct sun through windows depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the east and especially west sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as "solar screens," "solar films," awnings, and vegetation can help. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it's best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the south, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gain during the day.
  • Calibrate thermostats to ensure that their ambient temperature readings are correct.
  • Make sure that areas in front of vents are clear of furniture and paper. As much as 25 percent more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked.
  • Shorten the preventive maintenance intervals for replacing air handler filters. These keep air clean and prevent equipment from working harder to force air through dirty filters. 
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on heat pumps, air-conditioners, or chillers. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; keeping coils clean saves energy.
  • Repair leaks and adjust pressure in compressed air systems.
  • Repair steam trap leaks; replace malfunctioning steam traps.
  • Repair damaged insulation and replace missing insulation with thicknesses calculated for the operating and ambient conditions of the mechanical system.
  • Keep exterior doors closed while running your HVAC. It sounds simple, but it will help avoid wasteful loss of heated or cooled air!

Communication and education

  • Educate employees and building occupants about how their behaviors affect energy use. ENERGY STAR has plenty of materials to help in the communications toolkit.
  • Ensure that team members from every department are trained in the importance of energy management and basic energy-saving practices. Hold staff meetings on energy use, costs, objectives, and employee responsibilities.
  • Educate staff about how their behaviors affect energy use. Some teams have created energy patrols to monitor and inform others when energy is wasted.
  • Develop an energy team and assign responsibilities to pursue energy efficiency in all departments.

Outside help

  • Measure and track energy performance using EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.
  • Use ENERGY STAR Target Finder to integrate efficiency goals into the design of new properties.
  • Ask your utility if they offer free or inexpensive energy audits and/or equipment rebates.

Do the basics right; get on base. You can’t score if you don’t get on base first. There’s a lot of money to be saved by improving what you already have. Continuously adapt your program to squeeze out additional savings.

~ Keith Klug, Sears Holdings Corporation, repeat top finisher, ENERGY STAR National Building Competition