Whether for business or at home, reducing energy costs is often a top priority for more reasons than one. Boosting energy efficiency not lowers utility expenses associated with heating and cooling system runtime, but certain measures can also improve occupant comfort, productivity, and health. Below we shed light on simple changes you can make to see both short-term and long-term energy savings for your home or business.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat in your home or businesses, then this is one great way to better control energy consumption. A programmable thermostat enables you to automatically adjust indoor temperature when no occupants are present (i.e. nights, weekends, vacations, etc.) As an example for business applications, you can set a programmable thermostat to turn on the AC or heat about 30 minutes before employees arrive as well as to shut it off 30 to 60 minutes before they leave.
According to the Department of Energy, setting your temperature just 1 degree cooler during winters and 1 degree warmer during summers can reduce the power you use up to 10%. So in warmer weather months, a good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat no lower than 78 degrees during waking hours to reduce energy consumption. Similarly, you can save energy by setting your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees during the colder months.
Invest in Window Film
During the winter months, glass windows and doors can account for approximately 20% of heat loss from a standard home or office. Conversely, heat gain from windows and doors can have an even greater drain on energy, causing AC units to work overtime to maintain consistent indoor temperatures. According to 3M™, one of the largest manufacturers of window film, an estimated 33% of cooling expenses are due to solar heat gain from windows. And for expansive commercial spaces, that number can even exceed 40%.
A simple yet highly effective solution is energy saving window film, also known as solar or sun-blocking window film. This type of window film acts as an invisible thermal shield that prevents heat from escaping through windows and glass doors. Similarly, the same type of technology can also prevent indoor heat gain during warmer months. In fact, professionally-installed window film can block as much as 66% of the sun’s heat, minimizing the frequency of your AC system needing to run.
Tune-up Your HVAC Systems
Although HVAC systems are often out of site and out of mind, routine maintenance of such units can dramatically impact your bottom line. Not only do regular HVAC system tune-ups help extend their life, but they can also optimize efficiency.
For starters, regularly change the filters on your HVAC equipment and make sure to have the equipment inspected and cleaned as often as recommended. In addition to HVAC systems themselves, make sure that areas in front of all vents are clear of furniture and paper. According to Energy Star, as much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked.
Optimize Natural Sunlight
It may be a no-brainer for some, but opening blinds and drapes throughout your home or business naturally minimizes the need to keep the lights on. If renovating or building a new space, take advantage of skylights or other natural light sources to reduce your lighting demands during daytime hours. It’s also advised to assess areas that may be overly lit and simply remove lighting that may not be necessary.
Dovetailing on the previous tip, certain window film products are designed to optimize natural sunlight while offering the same energy saving benefits. The best example of such technology is daylight redirecting window film. As the name implies, this unique type of sun control window film is engineered to redirect sunlight upwards toward the ceiling, allowing natural light to penetrate deeper into the building. Not only can this enhance the ambiance of a room, but more natural light has been shown to provide a number of benefits, ranging from improved productivity to accelerated recovery time for hospital patients.
Apply for an Energy Audit
While the idea of getting an energy audit may seem only applicable to businesses, residential customers can still greatly benefit from having their home assessed. This is particularly true for those who own apartments or condos with large windows exposed to long periods of sunlight.
Not only can an energy audit can help you determine where your money is spent every month in utilities, but more importantly, it can pinpoint areas of your home or business in which you can increase energy efficiency and make strides to reduce consumption. Most utility companies offer free energy audits to commercial customers. Other types of customers may need to apply with their utility company or a related energy provider.
Over the last couple of decades, we’ve made incredible strides in becoming more conscious of energy efficiency. In almost any home or business, there’s always room to increase the level of efficiency and reduce energy costs. These tips are just a few ways you can make a big impact over time.
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