The cost of energy is one of the biggest expenses for commercial buildings, but it’s also an expense that’s more controllable than others. By applying appropriate energy upgrades for commercial buildings, owners, managers and tenants can make significant reductions in the amount of energy that’s used and the amount of money spent each month on this expense.
Conduct an Energy Audit First
Making energy upgrades for commercial buildings will require investing money and resources, so it’s best to know where upgrades are needed before proceeding. An energy audit will provide useful information on your ongoing expenses and on areas where energy is being lost or wasted in your commercial building. An energy auditor can help you evaluate your energy patterns to see where you’re using the largest amount of energy. This procedure, along with an analysis of your energy bills, can show where you’re using the most energy and where efficiency upgrades could be effective. Your auditor will also conduct several tests to find out where your building is losing air and where heat is escaping.
Upgrade Building Envelope and Shell
The outer shell of your structure creates the building envelope, or the physical separation between conditioned interior spaces and unconditioned exterior areas. Efficiency upgrades in this area may include:
- More insulation: You should add more insulation to walls, ceiling, basement, attic, foundation and other areas where heat can escape
- Sealing air leaks: Find and seal gaps, cracks, holes, and other areas where conditioned air can leak out of your structure and air from outside can get in. Also, make sure to add weatherstripping and other appropriate materials to minimize air loss around windows and doors.
- Installing energy-efficient doors and windows: Replace older doors and windows with newer energy-efficient models with features, such as double-pane insulated construction or low-e coatings. Upgrade Lighting Systems Lighting systems are crucial, and you can upgrade them to be more energy efficient.
- Use CFL bulbs: Replace older incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. These bulbs provide plenty of light and use less energy.
- Use fluorescent lighting: Fluorescent bulbs have been used in commercial buildings for many years. Use this type of lighting wherever possible.
- Upgrade light fixtures: Install newer, energy-efficient light fixtures that are designed to work using less power. Upgrades can include better fluorescent fixtures and electronic ballasts.
- Install improved lighting controls: You can increase efficiency by installing more lighting controls in your commercial space. These controls may include dimmers that reduce lighting power, timers that turn lights on and off according to a programmed schedule and occupancy sensors that turn lights on in occupied rooms and shut them off in empty areas.
Upgrade and Maintain HVAC Systems
Heating and cooling systems can account for a substantial portion of your monthly energy bill. Energy upgrades in this area can cut energy costs significantly in your commercial building.
- Have preventive maintenance performed: Regular preventive maintenance will ensure that your commercial heating and cooling system continues to work at its best. An HVAC professional can inspect, clean and adjust your HVAC equipment to ensure it keeps working reliably at its highest level of efficiency.
- Install high-efficiency equipment: Replacing older HVAC equipment with newer high-efficiency systems can cut your heating and cooling bills by a significant amount. High-efficiency HVAC systems may cost more initially, but their improved performance means they can often pay for themselves within a few short years.
- Check HVAC system ductwork: If there are leaks or other problems in your ductwork, a substantial amount of heated and cooled air is being wasted. Have your HVAC professional check your ducts for tight connections, proper seals and adequate insulation.