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Home > Green News > SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE > Special Reports > Special Reports and Featured Products about Green Best Practices > Easy First Steps

Winter Energy Savers for Businesses...and Facilities

Save energy during winter months with simple heat loss and saving prevention upgrades.

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California power plants and CO2 emissions Take a half day for a team of your employees or volunteers to fine tune your facilities and reduce your winter energy costs..and improve workspace comfort. Here are some significant cost saving tips from the EPA.

1. Check caulking around windows and doorframes for leaks and fill them. Inspect seals around doors and windows and add new weather stripping as necessary-if you can slide a dollar bill easily through the gap you are losing heat, energy and money.

2. Consider adding insulation and/or increasing R-value to recommended levels. This can be a relatively small chore or a large one that requires outside help, depending on the nature of your building. If you wish to know the exact optimal R-value for your area, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has an online calculator – visit Determining the R-Value You Need for an Existing House Exit ENERGY STAR for more information.

3. “Tune-up” your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A yearly “maintenance contract” can cost little compared to the savings potential.

4. Change, or clean if reusable, your HVAC system’s air filters regularly. These filters often cost as little as $2 dollars each but a dirty filter can waste up to $5 dollars per month in energy. In addition to higher operating expenses, dirty filters increase resistance, causing equipment to work harder, possibly leading to premature failure.

5. Install programmable thermostats to automate your HVAC system. Modern solid-state electronic programmable thermostats can optimize HVAC operations 24/7, based on your needs. A “smart thermostat” can turn on the HVAC before you arrive and off after you leave based on your and your employees schedule, instead of heating or cooling all night or on weekends. These thermostats cost between $25 and $150 but can cut HVAC costs by up to 30%.

6. Do you have ceiling fans? Check the owner’s manual to see if they are reversible. If not, consider reversible ceiling fans, which can be reversed in the winter to allow the warmer air that accumulates near the ceiling to be pushed back down.

7. Are your water heater and pipes insulated? Insulation will decrease your energy consumption and may even allow you to turn the temperature back and still maintain comfortable water temperatures at points of use, such as faucets and showers. If your water heater is an older, uninsulated unit, consider adding a water heater blanket to prevent heat loss from the tank, which equates to lower energy usage and less money spent.

8. Set the water temperature on your water heater only as hot as needed (110-120 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent scalds and save energy.

9. Use the sun to your advantage! During the heating season, with the sun low in the south, open or uncover unobstructed southern windows to increase the interior temperature, and close them at night to help retain the warmth.

10. Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified equipment for your business and home. The ENERGY STAR label indicates the most efficient computers, printers, copiers, refrigerators, televisions, windows, thermostats, ceiling fans, and other appliances and equipment. Find ENERGY STAR qualified products.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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