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Every business can save 10-30% through energy efficiency – EASILY!

By Sarah Boren

Small businesses in the U.S. spend more than $60 billion a year on energy.  30% of $60 billion is $19.8 billion dollars that could be spent elsewhere in operations, retaining or hiring new employees, or buying a more energy-efficient piece of equipment.  That is a chunk of change.

Without sacrificing service, quality, style, or comfort, small businesses can save as much money, reduce pollution, improve their bottom line, and help with energy independence, per square foot, as large corporations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So how do you cut utility costs by 10-30%?  EASILY!!!

First, look at your energy consumption over the last year (preferably two years if you have the data) and begin to figure out when and where you use the most energy.  If JEA is your energy provider, all you need is your account number and an email to set up free online access on their website which connects you to two years of data with graphs under “check usages,” and a free online energy audit assessor.

Second, obtain your Energy Star (ES) number so you can understand your consumption in relation to other businesses in your sector.  You can obtain an ES number in two ways: a) ES Target Finder or b) ES Portfolio Manager at www.energystar.gov.  To learn more, attend the free greenWORKs workshops on April 25th and May 20th (see sidebar for more details).  EXTRA INCENTIVE BONUS: If you do steps one and two and attend a greenWORKs workshop, your company will be recognized at the U.S. Green Building Council North Florida Chapter’s Annual Awards Party on May 23, 2013!

Third, perform a basic energy audit to figure out where to focus your efficiency measures.  You can do this in two different ways: a) appoint a green champion in your office to assess your energy usage by using tools and services provided for free in the community (e.g., free energy walk-through by your utility—all utilities by law are required to offer this; check out a free Home Energy Evaluation Kit from any Duval county library that has a “how to” guide and tools like watts up meters to assess energy usage; use your utility’s online energy audit assessor; search online for how to perform your own Energy Audit) OR b) pay for a professional audit [if you are in an old building, this may be prudent in the beginning of the process because the audit will provide prioritized actions and recommendations.]

Fourth, start with easy, no/low cost measures.  While there is no substitute for a comprehensive energy audit and analysis, you can start saving right away with the following measures:

  • Turn lights and equipment ALL the way off when not in use.  Sleep mode still draws energy.
  • Purchase energy-efficient products like ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment.
  • Install lighting occupant-sensors in proper locations.
  • Tune-up heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract.  This will save on average 10% on your bill a year.
  • Regularly change or clean HVAC filters
  • Install a programmable thermostat (~$30 at a hardware store)
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED (preferably) or ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) wherever appropriate.
  • Install light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs.
  • Control the direct sun through windows in both summer and winter to prevent or encourage heat gain.

Fifth, continue to measure and track energy performance.  A free and easy tool to use to measure, set goals, benchmark, and track energy use and savings is the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (www.energystar.gov/benchmark).

Start saving now!

By Sarah Boren, MEM, LEED AP BD+C and LEED AP Homes

Executive Director, U.S. Green Building Council North Florida Chapter & Green Team Project

www.usgbcnf.org

 

Useful Resources

Websites:

Free Local Tools:

  • Free check out of Home Energy Evaluation Kit at Jacksonville Public Libraries www.jea.com/backpack
  • Free energy efficiency commercial greenWORKs workshops at the Everbank Center Auditorium, 2ndFloor, 301 W. Bay Street , Jacksonville (Downtown), 32202
    • Thursday, April 25th 4-6pm
    • Monday, May 20th 4-6pm

Register at www.usgbcnf.org/event-calendar

 


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