Lowering fixed costs, such as a building’s energy usage, is good for the environment and good for your bottom line. That’s why many commercial properties are conducting commercial energy audits to identify ways to optimize energy usage and reduce utility costs. In this post, we’ll discuss how to conduct a commercial energy audit and save money:
What is a Commercial Energy Audit?
In order to reduce your commercial property’s energy costs, you first need to understand how your building is using its energy. That’s where a commercial energy audit comes in handy. Specifically, a commercial energy audit is a thorough assessment that determines how much energy a building uses and works to identify the means by which energy efficiency can be improved. Following a commercial energy audit, a property manager or owner should clearly understand how, where, and when electricity is used throughout the property.
Though a commercial audit can be done by anyone, working with a professional firm can give you the most accurate breakdown of energy usage throughout your facility.
Steps to Conducting a Commercial Energy Audit
As we said above, a commercial energy audit is a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about saving energy on your property. Here’s a look at the steps to take when performing such an audit:
Know Your Current Energy Output
Before you can take steps to improve your energy efficiency, you first need to understand how your facility is consuming energy and what it’s paying for it. To do this, gather some of your most recent utility bills so you can track your energy consumption and what it’s costing you each month. Once you have this benchmark, you can gauge your facility’s energy efficiency by comparing its usage to other similar properties in the area or throughout the nation. You can also identify key metrics and goals that you can work to hit by taking the necessary steps to make your facility more energy efficient.
Determine Where the Property is Losing Energy
Once you’ve got your benchmark energy data, it’s time to take the steps necessary to reduce energy usage. According to Energy Star, air leaks account for up to 40 percent of the energy that’s used to cool a property and can account for up to 10 percent of a property’s annual utility bills. In other words, start by identifying where the facility is losing warm air during the winter months and cool air during the summer months. Air leaks tend to occur around windows, doors, baseboards, switches and electrical outlets, and more. Be sure to identify all of the areas on your property where you’re losing air so corrective action can take place.
Check Your Insulation
The better your insulation, the better your property’s energy efficiency. Hence, be sure to check your insulation and see if it should be upgraded. There’s a good chance that your property – depending on when it was built – still has its original insulation, and it could be due for an upgrade according to today’s standards. According to the EPA, upgrading or adding insulation in certain areas of the property can save the average homeowner up to 15 percent per year on heating and cooling costs.
Check Your HVAC Unit and Thermostat
The largest share of a property’s energy usage is dedicated to heating and cooling. There are various routine maintenance tasks to help keep your HVAC unit running efficiently, like changing the filters regularly, having it regularly inspected and tuned up, and ensuring that any ductwork is clean and free of debris. But if your HVAC unit is more than 15 years old, and you’re serious about conserving energy, it could be time to invest in a new, more energy-efficient unit.
In addition to paying more attention to your HVAC unit, you’ll want to optimize your thermostats throughout the property to ensure you’re not wasting energy – and dollars – unnecessarily. Invest in a smart thermostat that can better regulate temperatures during hours when workers aren’t present. Even just adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees makes a significant dent in your energy bills.
Other Ways to Save
In addition to what we’ve mentioned in this section, there are a few other notable ways to save energy. This includes:
- Assessing your lighting: Still using incandescent or fluorescent bulbs? Switch to energy-efficient LED lights. In addition to consuming less power compared to conventional bulbs, LED lights also last longer and don’t emit as much heat, which makes them safer.
- Off-hours energy draw: Office equipment and machinery can still use power – even when you’re not using them. This “phantom power” draw can occur as long as these devices are plugged in. Getting into the habit of unplugging equipment and machinery when you leave for the day or weekend or using power strips that can be easily turned off and on can help eliminate this phantom energy draw.
Efficient Ways to Save Money
When it comes to saving money on energy, it’s not one thing that’s going to do it – but many small things that will combine to be the difference. The significance of your energy savings can vary based on what your goals are that you identified when conducting your baseline data. If you have a significant budget, you can look at addressing everything that we listed above. If you’re working on more of a limited budget, maybe you should work on addressing an item on the above list every year. How you optimize energy efficiency is truly up to you and what your goals are.
Why Choose Green Line Rates?
At Green Line Rates, we won’t just thoroughly assess your facility to identify areas where your building can improve its energy efficiency, but we’ll also work with your utility providers to determine accurate billing and negotiate rates. And we stand behind our work. If we don’t deliver savings, you don’t pay us anything. For more information, contact us today.