Eight Low-Cost Ways to Use Less Energy and Stop Wasting Money in Your Buildings

July 14, 2022
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Blog post adapted by Lulu August, Montgomery County Climate Intern Summer 2022 (she/her)

Looking to improve your building’s operations and maintenance, save energy, and save money this summer? The Environmental Protection Agency recommends 8 low-cost ways:

  1. Afterhours Audit: Conduct an afterhours energy audit to identify any appliances or systems that are on after business hours but shouldn’t be. By identifying and addressing these energy drains, you can save energy and money.
  2. EMS Programming: Take full advantage of energy management systems (EMS) to optimize start-up time, power-down time, and equipment sequencing. Although many facilities have sophisticated, computerized EMS in place, most only use these systems to turn equipment on and off. These systems can be programmed to accomplish control strategies such as optimal start/stop, air- and water-side economizing, chilled and heating water resets, night setback and setup, night purge, morning warm-up, hot and cold deck optimization, and lighting sweeps.
  3. Janitorial Scheduling: Lighting can require a significant amount of energy. Consider revising janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each day. For example, switching to day-cleaning, which takes place while occupants are in the building, not only saves energy but has been shown to also reduce tenant complaints.
  4. Preventive Maintenance: To create sustainable, long-lasting energy systems and appliances, implement a preventive maintenance program. Even if a piece of equipment or a system is meticulously maintained, using inadequate control strategies or improper scheduling can waste vast amounts of energy and lead to premature equipment failure. Rather than focusing on component-by-component care, address both operation and maintenance equally in preventive maintenance programs. This can include periodic reviews, seasonally adjusting control strategies, and tracking performance over time.
  5. Routine Inspection: Visually inspect insulation on all piping, ducting and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.). By implementing any needed repairs, you can reduce energy leaks in your building.
  6. Commissioning: Retro or re-commission the building systems, including heating, cooling, air distribution, and more to make sure they are running as intended. (See EPA’s tips here.)
  7. Energy Savings Treasure Hunt: Embark on a Treasure Hunt to identify easy opportunities to improve energy and water efficiency. (Start EPA’s Treasure Hunts here.)
  8. Leak Repair: Find and repair leaking faucets and equipment. A dripping hot water faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per year, plus the energy to heat it. (Find more water-saving tips here.)

At first glance, this list may appear to increase the workload of Operations & Management staff. However, performing these tasks on a regular, proactive basis should save staff time in the long run, because preventive maintenance helps to reduce equipment malfunction, the frequency of troubleshooting, unplanned breakdowns, and building occupant complaints.

This article was adopted from the Environmental Protection Agency.



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