8 Ways Businesses, Buildings, and Shopping Malls Can Reduce Their Energy Bills

While utility bills are generally seen as uncontrollable expenses and a cost of doing business, there are ways to monitor energy usage and significantly cut expenses.  Here are 8 ways businesses, buildings, and shopping malls are cutting their energy costs.

1.   Retrofitting

By updating inefficient equipment, new systems can often say 25-50% in energy savings.  There is significant capital cost and paybacks may extend into 7-10 years depending on equipment costs.

Replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs or fixtures can make a huge difference.  LED bulbs can provide 10 times the efficiency of regular bulbs and last 25-50 times longer.  The energy savings often pay for themselves within the year.

Moving to cloud-based computing can eliminate the need to maintain servers and computer rooms, which need significant air conditioning and handling.

2.   Retro-commissioning

Retrofitting means replacing outdate equipment. Retro-commissioning means fine tuning your existing systems to make them more energy efficient.  It might include scheduling, sequencing, and updated program control, and optimizing set points.

Retro-commissioning Examples:

  • Matching chiller and boiler operations to match building loads
  • Reducing ventilation in less used areas
  • Making sure ventilation dampers work properly
  • Rebalancing systems, including decreasing supply air pressure set-points
  • Aligning zone temp set points to line up with operating schedules

In some cases, retro-commissioning costs can be negligible.  In other cases, the ROI payback for even large facilities can be two years or less.

3.   Smart Controls

Even without overhauling or replacing systems, smart controls can help monitor energy usage and deliver it efficiently.  Smart appliances coupled with smart controls can shift loads to balance water and electricity delivery to when it’s needed most, while reducing consumption in off hours.

Companies that are on commercial rates with utility providers often have demand charges, which can exact a premium when energy consumption is high over short periods.  Demand rates can make up half of a company’s utility costs.  Smart controls can balance energy use to limit such add-on charges.

4.   Alternative Energy Sources

Batteries charged by solar power and solar farms may be worth investigating.  Technology has come a long way in a few short years and prices have dropped.  In addition, wind and solar companies often sell their excess power.  Off-site renewable contracts have the potential to provide stable energy costs by providing financing for energy projects.

5.   Look Outside Your Facility

Planting trees outside your facility can make a big difference in your energy bills.  In the summer, the shade can help reduce cooling costs.  In winter, trees can provide a wind break to make it cheaper and easier to retain heat inside.

6.   Basic Maintenance

Tuning up your heating and cooling systems each season can make sure they are running at optimal levels and help diagnose problems before they occur.  Simple things like changing filters regularly can make a big difference.

7.   Check Your Rates

If you live in a place where utilities have been deregulated, you can compare rates with independent suppliers.  If not, ask your utility provider at least once a year to see if there are discounts or promotions you are eligible to receive.

8.   Get an Energy Audit

Occasionally doing an energy audit can uncover additional ways to save.  Many utility providers will do this for your business at no charge.  Companies that sell energy efficient equipment will also provide an analysis and show potential cost savings built on replacing less efficient equipment.  There are also independent inspectors that can do the audit and recommend changes.

Wonder how you can manage your utilities costs?

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