By National Refrigeration December 13, 2018
This blog originally set out to tackle reducing energy costs associated with heating and cooling office spaces and other work buildings. Whether for work or living, buildings in general consume 40% of the total energy used in the United States, and that’s just to supply electricity, heating, and cooling, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Upon trying to estimate how many of those buildings were dedicated to office and work-related functions, it quickly became apparent that “workspace” has evolved into a blurred definition. In 2017, 24% of full-time employees performed some part of their job at home, according to the Alliance To Save Energy. In fact, 3.9 million employees in the U.S. produce half their work at home, which is a 115% increase in the last 12 years, according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics.
In order to address the issue of conserving heating and cooling costs at work, this article needs to adapt to the blurred definition of workspace shared by today’s readers and employees. Fortunately, whether you work in a traditional office, home office, shared workspace, food and beverage establishment, retail storefront, or other indoor commercial space, you can help save money and the planet by working and living with energy-efficient mindfulness.
To do this right, you need to get a formal energy audit from your local energy company. If you have a home office, there are a lot of incentive, rebate, and financing programs to assist you in making the energy-efficient upgrades your home needs. Unfortunately, there are less opportunities for businesses, however, typically organizations have easier access to capital.
It’s worth it for small- to medium-size business owners to take control of the climate in their offices by walking around and doing a visual and tactile inspection of windows, doors, and any other spaces that feel drafty. You can cut up to 25% off your energy costs just by sealing the drafty areas of your building, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Plus, allergens and pollutants also blow in through these leaks and affect your air quality.
If you work in a home that’s been repurposed for office space, there may be a working fireplace that’s been left for interior design purposes. Check to make sure the flue is closed. A chimney with an open flue is like leaving a window open! All your paid-for heat will blow right out. There are many products and methods for sealing the chimney permanently if you don’t intend to use it. A simple fix for the windows and doors is weather stripping. You can find it at any home improvement or hardware store, and it’s easy to install. Windows and doors get their own specific type of weather stripping.
It’s not hard to forget about the furnace down in the utility room and the heat pump tucked behind the corner of the building. After you’ve done your visual inspection and plugged up the apparent problems in your total climate-control system, go find the engines behind it. Start with the equipment you need for winter, like your furnace. Brush away all the cobwebs and dust and find the Energy Star label. This guarantees the equipment meets or exceeds the federal minimum standards for energy efficiency. Next, find the seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER rating, the less energy it uses.
If your HVAC equipment has a low SEER rating, or if it doesn’t even have these labels, consider budgeting for an upgrade. In the long term, investing in better equipment can save an additional 20% on heating costs.
Being mindful means respecting and caring for the equipment your business depends on to operate. Just like you hire talented professionals to handle the numerous facets of a dynamic business, interview and hire a factory-trained HVAC service technician to maintain and repair your system. Get free quotes from three local HVAC companies to find the friendly service and expert know-how you need. These HVAC techs will do the regular maintenance required to keep equipment running efficiently for many years, including changing the air filter. The best technicians will also discover small problems and tell-tale signs of breakdowns and make repairs before the damage becomes catastrophic.
The bottom line for your business—save up to 5% on heating costs with regular maintenance by a factory-trained technician.
Exhibit A in the thermostat debate so many households have heard: a maximum setting of 68 degrees during the day is the most energy-efficient indoor temperature, according to the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center.
For those in home offices who don’t mind wearing a sweater, you can feel good about bundling up while you lower your heating costs by 5% for every degree you drop your thermostat between 60- and 70-degrees. For instance, if you keep your home office at 68 degrees, say it costs you $48 a month, which is the average price to heat your Rhode Island home with natural gas, according to WalletHub. If you lower your office temperature by just 3 degrees, you can save roughly $100 per year.
If you have control over your hot water heater at the office, you can apply the same thinking for additional savings. For every 10 degrees you lower the temperature on your hot water heater, you save up to 5% on water heating costs, according to the department of energy. An eco-friendly benchmark is 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another line item for your business improvement budget may be a ductless mini-split. If lowering your thermostat by 3 degrees can save you $100 a year, imagine how much you can save if you only have to heat that single room you work in? Don’t think about it—just call and get an estimate. Retail storefronts can keep the sales area out front comfortable for employees and customers, while saving on energy costs by keeping vast storage areas in back at an ambient temperature. Mini-splits are used in many restaurants, bars, and cafés for their versatile installation and energy efficiency, and the individual thermostat on the air handler can keep the dining area at a different temperature than the kitchen.
Living and working with energy-efficient mindfulness can empower you to stay comfortable and productive all winter, whether you work in an office park, bagel shop, or subterranean C-suite at home.
National Refrigeration is a unique family company: one where we share our focus on our family of employees with yours. That’s why we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We know that our reputation is on the line with every job that we do and will settle for nothing less than perfection. It’s been that way since our modest beginnings in 1969.Visit our website.
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Whether you need 24-7 emergency service or advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort—at home and at work—call us at 401-737-2000 or email us.