All entries tagged with “air conditioning”

6 (Easy) Steps to Cooling Summer Energy Expenses

During the summer of 2011, Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, NC cut back big time to reduce their utilities cost. The district re-formatted their work week to four 10-hour days during the summer months. The district also made an effort to unplug all unnecessary electrical devices, adjust HVAC settings according to occupancy, curb water consumption and turn off unneeded lights. The extensive plan included everyone: team principals, administration, custodians and all school staff. Throughout the months of June, July and August – the district reduced energy costs by $508,413. Imagine what small changes like this could do for your facility.

FirstFuel, a company specializing in building energy analytics, monitored 60 million square feet of commercial buildings across the US. They report that America could save $17 billion just by making simple behavior changes and minimal alterations to operations as shown in the Guildford County School District.  

During summer months, energy-use is at an all-time high. Weather is a key energy driver as summer cooling systems account for 13-percent of total energy usage in commercial buildings nationwide – there is no better time to implement an energy saving plan.

Below are some simple methods to cool climbing summer energy expenses:

  1. Measure and Compare your expenses. Get a general idea of what others in your industry are spending on energy costs and how those expenses vary throughout the year. Are other commercial buildings doing something that you’re not to keep energy bills down low? Compare your facility’s energy usage to similar buildings with this tool.
  2. Regular maintenance is key. Routine inspection of cooling systems before the summer season will save you time, money and discomfort. Be sure to have an air conditioning professional check your system along with inspect ductwork and seal leaks. Replace air filters frequently and dust outside units before heavy use. Also, ask your AC professional to calibrate your thermostat – make sure that you are getting an accurate reading and that cooling equipment is working correctly.
  3. Apply occupancy monitors. There’s no need for cooling systems to maintain the same settings 24-hours per day, especially when facilities are empty at certain hours. Consider occupancy monitors that adjust temperature depending on habitation of the facility. Just a couple of degrees can save a huge amount, for every degree increase in temperature over a 12-hour period, you can save 1.5 percent in cooling energy costs.
  4. Consider upgrading lighting systems. All of that talk about LED lighting wasn’t for nothing. Save money by replacing incandescent bulbs with long lasting LED lights. This lighting upgrade runs at an estimated energy efficiency of 80% to 90% compared to the traditional incandescent bulb which runs at just 20% energy efficiency – wasting 80% of electric energy. That wasted energy is converted into heat – a big negative for the summer months!

  5. Be aware of peak-demand charges! Utility companies define a “demand charge” as a charge that “is determined using the maximum demand (or “peak demand”) occurring during the monthly billing period.” This charge is a fixed rate calculated on a per kilowatt basis. There are several strategies to cut back on peak-demand charges: first, be sure to establish the facility’s load profile identifying high-energy use equipment. Initiate an Energy Management System (EMS) that creates a sequence or schedule for high-energy equipment avoiding peak energy use. Consider using backup generators to power equipment that cannot be shifted away from peak demand periods.
  6. Work as a team! None of these strategies will work without the help of employees. Implement a goal within your team so that everyone feels as though they are a part of this reduction – share the responsibility! Encourage employees to turn off lights, turn off personal devices using electricity during the day and unplug things that aren’t being used! This is a team wide effort!

We want to know: what are you doing to keep your energy usage lower during the summer months? How are you encouraging your team to get involved and help alleviate the extra costs of higher energy usage? Email us at to share your ideas!




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