Energy-saving tips for your business

Saving energy doesn't have to be a challenge, and saving just 1,000 kWh means shaving $100 off your energy bill, so even small changes add up to big savings. Puget Sound Energy has many programs designed specifically to help offset the cost of upgrading your business to be more energy-efficient and we encourage you to check them out at pse.com/foryourbusiness.

In the meantime, and to get your business started on its energy-efficiency journey, here are some simple no/low-cost tips to help put energy savings back in your pocket and boost your bottom line. Explore the sections below to learn how you can start taking control of your energy bill.

  • The easiest way to reduce energy use is to make sure that equipment is turned off when it’s not needed. Visit your building outside of normal business hours to note temperatures, lights and sounds to find ways to reduce unnecessary energy usage.
  • Create a checklist or recruit volunteers as energy monitors to ensure equipment and thermostats are set correctly when you open and before closing.
  • Many electronics draw power even when turned off. Stop this wasted energy with an advanced power strip to shut off plugged-in devices such as printers, monitors, computer peripherals, water coolers and coffeemakers.
  • Most common office equipment, such as computers and printers, have energy-management software that should be utilized to reduce your equipment’s energy use by as much as half, saving up to $75 per year.
  • Many stores have electronic displays that are left on even when the store is closed. Consider shutting off the displays during closed hours, either manually or with simple timers.
  • Refrigerated vending machines typically operate 24/7. Timers or occupancy sensors can yield significant savings because they allow the machines to turn on only when a customer is present or when the compressor must run to maintain the product at the desired temperature.
  • When it’s time to replace or add equipment, consider ENERGY STAR® certified models. Efficient models are available across more than 60 products from telephones to vending machines.
  • Heating, ventilation and cooling

    Also referred to as “HVAC”, this is where most energy use can be found in a typical business (foodservice excluded). These actions can help with that load.

    • To reduce energy use and avoid costly repairs, get a professional to service your heating and cooling systems annually.
    • Clean or replace your furnace or heat pump filters regularly throughout the heating season — about every two months.
    • Keep areas in front of baseboard and wall heaters, room registers and return air grills clean and clear of any objects that block airflow.
    • A lot of energy can escape from gaps around doors, on the loading dock, and in and out of refrigerated spaces. Regularly check and seal gaps in door seals and make sure employees keep the doors closed.
    • During warm weather, blinds can block direct sunlight and reduce cooling needs; in the winter, opening the blinds on south-facing windows will let in sunlight to help heat the space.
    • Make sure your heating and cooling temperatures are coordinated with when the building is occupied each quarter. Programmable thermostats can make temperature setbacks a reliable option. Setting the HVAC system back or turning it off one hour before closing should be enough to meet your business needs through the end of the day.
    • Make sure that HVAC settings in stockrooms, offices and other peripheral rooms are at minimum settings. If you have baseboard heaters, turn the thermostat down or off in unoccupied rooms and close the door (do not do this if you have a furnace or heat pump).
    • Window air conditioners are energy hogs. Consider installing a timer to shut the unit off when you’re not there and turn it back on 30 minutes before you expect to return.
    • Check heating and cooling system condenser coils as debris can collect and cause higher bills. Dust off these coils monthly, and thoroughly wash the coils at the beginning and end of the cooling season.

    For more information about PSE’s various HVAC programs visit pse.com/commercialhvac.

  • Lighting

    Lighting upgrades help make your workspace look bright and inviting and often offer the fastest payback for your investment.

    • Replace incandescent lighting with DesignLights Consortium (DLC) or ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and fixtures, particularly in areas you use most. LED bulbs use at least 80 percent less energy while lasting up to 25 years longer than incandescent bulbs.
    • Choose the right bulb for each room. LED bulbs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, brightness and color temperature to suit nearly every fixture.
    • Clean lighting fixtures and bulbs to ensure that they continue to perform as designed and provide acceptable light levels for workers to perform their tasks.
    • Take advantage of daylighting where possible to reduce the need for electric light and improve the ambience of the space. Daylighting controls can make this easier by adding automation for window blinds and lights.
    • Install occupancy lighting sensors in frequently unoccupied areas such as restrooms, storage areas or break rooms.

    For more information about specific lighting programs available from PSE visit pse.com/commerciallighting.

  • Water

    Being mindful of your water use can potentially affect multiple utility bills, including water, sewer, electricity, and natural gas.

    • A cold-water leak that drips 0.2 gallons per minute will waste more than 100,000 gallons in one year and cost $700 in wasted water alone. A similar-sized hot water leak can cost as much as $1,700 for wasted water and energy every year. Combine that with the additional wastewater/sewer costs and those leaks should quickly become a top priority.
    • Consider reducing water heater temperatures where it’s not needed for health or safety. For general water use, a temperature setpoint of 120°F is usually sufficient.
    • Low-flow faucets and showerheads, as well as sink and shower controllers that automatically shut off, can help conserve water and the energy used to heat water.
    • Use automatic faucet shutoff, single-temperature fittings and low-flow showerheads with pause control to reduce hot-water waste in bathrooms and fitness rooms.
    • Water fountains generally don’t need to provide ice-cold water 24 hours a day unless it is required for health reasons. In most cases, you can turn off the cooling systems in drinking fountains.
  • Foodservice and lodging facilities

    It’s important to know where every dollar is spent in your restaurant or hotel, and your utility bill may seem like a surprising place to look for savings that can greatly impact your bottom line. In a restaurant, each utility dollar saved equates to $20 in food sales you can use literally anywhere else without changing labor, food cost or any other fixed expense. Take some of the steps below and those savings and profits will really start to add up.

    • Develop a checklist of any energy- saving activities for your staff (like turning off lights, setting thermostats back, turning equipment on and off) and put the GM or kitchen manager in charge of the checklist. Hold your team accountable.
    • In the kitchen, equipment should be turned on for preheating no more than 15 minutes before it is needed. Reducing the operating time of kitchen appliances can cut cooking-related energy consumption (which makes up over half of your natural gas bill) by up to 60 percent.
    • Idling equipment costs you money. Turning off various pieces can really add up. Take a look at these yearly stats:
      • Fryers idle about 75 percent of the time. Turning one fryer off for as little as four hours can save you $150. Have a back-up fryer? Turning it off unless you absolutely need it can save you $900!
      • Switching off your broiler for one hour can save $400.
      • Turning a high-temperature dishwasher off at night can save up to $500.
    • Instead of repeatedly repairing equipment, and before they ultimately fail, learn about PSE’s rebates so you can be ready in case of emergency. The rebate, added to energy and water savings, can help pay for the upgraded equipment and you’ll continue to save money for years on your utility bill as they operate.
    • Optimize your refrigeration system(s):
      • Set refrigerator temperatures between 35° and 38°F and freezers between –14° and –8°F. Energy is wasted if settings drift too low, so check them periodically.
      • Inspect and replace worn seals and gaskets on refrigerator doors and inspect the door closers for proper operation.
      • Walk-in units lose cold air when doors are opened. Adding strip curtains to the doors catch that cold air (but they must reach the floor). A 250 square-foot walk-in can save more than $300 per year by just adding strip curtains.
    • The right pre-rinse sprayer can save you energy and water. Many sprayers use up to 5 gallons per minute (gpm), but low-flow sprayers limit the flow rate to 1.6 gpm while increasing the pressure, still giving you the cleaning power you need while saving you money. Low-flow sprayers are a minimal investment with a typical payback of less than two months.
    • Lodging-specific tips:
      • Hallway lights are on 24/7. Maximize skylights and daylighting where possible or simply dim them to 30 percent during daytime hours.
      • Instruct front desk staff to book rooms in clusters to maximize heating and cooling benefits. The top corners, summer-west-, and winter-north-facing rooms can be the most energy-intensive to heat and/or cool so consider booking those last.
      • Provide guests options to forego daily linen changes and remind them with placards to turn off appliances, sharing with them how these steps are helping your business and/or the environment.
      • Computer monitors, both at the front desk and in business centers, can waste energy if left on. Updating those “sleep” settings can save $10 to $30 a year per monitor, and even up to $45 per year for whole-computer settings.
      • Cover pools and hot tubs after hours to limit heat loss. This can save 50 to 70 percent of that equipment’s energy use, 30 to 50 percent of makeup water needed, and 35 to 60 percent of chemicals required.

    For more about foodservice and lodging programs offered by PSE visit pse.com/foodservice and pse.com/lodging.