Businesses housed within an older building may have lots of areas where energy is being wasted – and an opportunity to start reducing monthly energy bills. Becoming more energy efficient doesn’t require a costly renovation. By retrofitting a few key building elements and identifying easy-to-fix energy blunders, you’d be surprised by how much savings can be found, even within the first month. Here are five low cost ways to make older buildings a more eco-friendly place to work.
Get an Energy Audit
The first step in energy efficiency is requesting an energy audit of the building. Generally completed by a utility company, this is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows within the building. Audits identify energy inefficiencies that may have gone unnoticed for years and help you reduce utility costs. Audits also help you determine what the best energy conservation measures are for your building allowing you to prioritize and evaluate all possibilities at once.
Requests to have the building be Retro-Commissioned are another option. In this instance, an energy consultant would optimize the building’s operations (as they currently are) making the building as energy efficient as possible without replacing anything. Essentially taking what is already in place and making sure it is running the way it’s supposed to.
Retrofit the Lighting
Many older buildings are outfitted with outdated and inefficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. By replacing all CFLs and incandescent bulbs with EarthTronics high quality LED light bulbs, energy savings can be instant. Our bulbs boast an average life span of over 25,000 hours – 10 times longer than CFLs, and can reduce lighting energy consumption by 80%.
Retrofitting existing fixtures with LEDs is an easy install and something that won’t have to be done again for years, reducing overall maintenance time. LEDs are brighter, use less wattage and run at a lower temperature than florescent lighting, reducing HVAC costs in the long run as well.
Seal Those Cracks
Seal and reseal all cracks by checking the weather stripping at doors and windows. During building energy audits, ask for infrared imaging to show where the heat is escaping. Caulk is generally the go-to sealant, but spray foam is a great material that expands inside crevices to seal those hard to reach places.
Double Check Windows
While installing new windows may be cost prohibitive, retrofitting existing windows to retain more heat is a simple alterative. Add storm windows to reduce air leakage and apply caulk and weather stripping. Use window treatments and coverings to reduce heat loss in the winter and install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the building helping it stay cool in the summer.
It’s the Little Things
There are little things that can be done within the office (beyond recycling) that also helps bring big energy savings. Try to go paperless as much as possible, but for printers, use post-consumer water (PCW) paper. This paper is eco-friendly and made entirely from recycled materials. Use biodegradable cleaning products to reduce employee exposure to chemicals and make sure business appliances have the Energy Star Rating.
The cost of retrofitting a building doesn’t have to fall completely within operational budgets. Energy rebate programs are available at the national and local level that may help finance eco-friendly initiatives. Many utility providers and local governments provide financial incentives to businesses that switch to products benefiting the environment while saving you money at the same time.
If you’d like to learn more about energy efficiency lighting and cost effective ways to retrofit facilities or buildings, we’re here to help. Contact us today.