Tips to Reduce Energy Expenses

Easy Changes to Reduce your Utility Bills…

  • Turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
  • Use available sunlight to illuminate your work spaces.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Install LED (light-emitting diode) “EXIT” signs.
  • Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights.
  • Control direct sunlight through windows with screens or film.
  • Regularly change HVAC filters.
  • Tune-up your HVAC units (clean and check refrigerant charge).
  • Install programmable thermostats.


  • Turn off lights when not needed. For example, turning off fluorescent lights saves energy, extends overall lamp life and reduces replacement costs. Myth: Turning lights on and off uses more electricity than leaving the lights on.
  • Reduce or replace inefficient, outdated or excessive lighting within your building.
  • When replacing old lighting equipment, evaluate new technologies that may need fewer fixtures and/or fewer lamps within existing fixtures.
  • Ensure that light levels will remain at adequate levels before changing out technologies and/or reducing number of lamps.
  • Where practical, replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Ensure you install compatible dimming technology if CFLs are used along with a dimming system.
  • When fluorescent T-12 lamps burn out, consider retrofitting fixtures with T-8 lamps and changing from magnetic ballast to electronic.
  • Replace incandescent “EXIT” signs with LED signs. LEDs use about one-tenth the wattage and last 50 times longer than incandescent-lamp signs.
  • Install lighting occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on or off, depending on occupancy. These sensors work well in areas such as conference rooms, break rooms or individual offices that are not occupied continuously.
  • Take advantage of natural daylight: turn off or dim electric lighting when adequate sunlight is available to illuminate interior space.
  • Ensure outdoor lighting is off during daytime.
  • Make sure you are getting the best possible light by cleaning fixtures and replacing any yellowed or hazy lenses and diffusers twice a year.

Heating and cooling

  • Establish a preventative maintenance program for your heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and systems. Maintenance activities can save up to 30% of fan energy and up to 10% of space conditioning energy use. Ensure that you regularly:
  • Change or clean all air filters, preferably every month.
  • Clean all heat exchanger surfaces, water and refrigerant coils, condensers and evaporators.
  • Repair leaks in piping, air ducts, coils, fittings and at the unit(s).
  • Replace defective equipment insulation, ducting and piping.
  • Install a high efficiency packaged heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. These can use up to 40% less energy than systems that just meet minimum standards. Look for a high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) or, on larger units, EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). You can purchase units with SEER above 12 or EER above 11. Specify high-efficiency air conditioning equipment when your system needs to be replaced, and save 25% to 35% on your investment annually.
  • When old motors fail, replace them with premium efficiency motors that operate at a lower annual cost. Ensure you specify the proper sized motor for the application. View cost reduction strategies for motors.
  • Install variable speed drives (VSDs) on large motor loads, where appropriate, to further reduce energy usage.
  • Use outside air and water side-economizers for “free cooling” when outside air temperatures and conditions permit – during the spring and fall.
  • In facilities with older chillers, consider replacing them with new, energy-efficient units that operate at or below .60 kilowatts per ton. View a chilled water system analysis tool to improve efficiency.
  • Reduce air conditioning and heating hours by installing a timer to turn off the system when the building is unoccupied.
  • Install an energy efficient attic fan or evaporative cooler. Attic fans or evaporative coolers help reduce or replace air conditioner use.
  • Add controls to exhaust fans. Exhaust fans remove air that has already been conditioned. Install timers and switches to shut them off when they are not needed or when the building is unoccupied.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat to automate your HVAC system. An “old-fashioned” thermostat turns the HVAC on and off based on temperature, not whether the building is occupied, or whether you benefit from the cooling/heating. A programmable thermostat can optimize HVAC operation “24/7” based on your needs. For example, instead of heating or cooling all night, so you can enter a comfortable building in the morning, this “smart thermostat” can turn on the HVAC one hour before you arrive, based on your daily/hourly needs. The cost can be $25 to $150, and it could cut your HVAC costs about 30%. Add a locking cover to prevent tampering with thermostat settings.

Temperature control

  • In winter, set office thermostat offices between 65 and 68 during the day/business hours, and 60 to 65 degrees during unoccupied times.
  • In summer, set thermostats between 78 and 80 degrees during the day/business hours, and above 80 degrees during unoccupied hours.
  • Adjust thermostats higher when cooling and lower when heating an occupied building or unoccupied areas within a building, e.g., during weekends and non-working hours.
  • During summer months, adjusting your thermostat setting up one degree typically can save 2-3% on cooling costs.
  • Consider installing locking devices on thermostats to maintain desired temperature settings.
  • Install programmable thermostats that automatically adjust temperature settings based on the time of day and day of the week. If you have multiple HVAC units, set your thermostats to return to the occupied temperature a half an hour apart.
  • In larger facilities with energy management systems (EMS), verify that temperature set points and operating schedules are correct for the controlled equipment. For EMS systems that no longer operate as initially designed, consider a retro-commissioning project to restore the system’s functionality.

Office equipment

  • To conserve energy and reduce internal heat gain, turn off computers, monitors, printers and copiers during non-business hours. Do not leave equipment in sleep mode overnight because it will continue to draw a small amount of power.
  • To save energy during periods of inactivity, ensure that the built-in power management system for your office equipment is active.
  • Ensure your screen saver is compatible with the computer’s power management features, and that the setup allows the system to go into power saver mode.
  • Laptop computers use 90% less energy than a desktop system
  • When purchasing new office equipment, look for ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR office equipment program promotes energy-efficient computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, scanners, copiers and multi-function devices that automatically power down during extended inactivity. Energy saving of 50% or more is possible.
  • Install plug load controllers in cubicles to control multiple loads like monitors, task lights and fans. These devises use a motion sensor that is incorporated with a plug load surge suppressor. Inactive equipment can be shut down when the cubicle is unoccupied.
  • Specify ENERGY STAR equipment when purchasing or negotiating a contract for new vending machines. The ENERGY STAR machines incorporate energy efficient compressors with refrigeration and lighting controls. Efficient vending equipment can save 30-50% over older equipment.

Laundry Service

  • Clean the lint from the clothes dryer after every load. T he efficiency of the dryer goes down when lint collects over the dryer filter. Run full loads and use the moisture-sensing setting. Save 5% on your electric bill.
  • Keep the clothes dryer’s outside exhaust clean. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use.
  • Install high-efficiency commercial washers, including but not limited to front-loading machines, which can cut energy costs up to 50% and use about 30% less water (18 to 25 gallons of water per load, compared to 40 gallons used by a standard machine). Energy-efficient and front-loading commercial clothes washers also last five to 10 years longer than standard, top-loading machines.

Refrigeration Equipment

  • Check temperature settings of refrigerators. The most common recommended settings are between -14 degrees and -8 degrees Fahrenheit for freezers and between 35 degrees and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators.
  • Do not leave the walk-in refrigerator door open when loading it. Install a plastic strip curtain over the entrance and save up to $20 per refrigerator each year.
  • Perform scheduled maintenance on refrigeration units. Keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice buildup.
  • Buy an ENERGY STAR commercial solid door refrigerator and freezer. Compared to standard models, ENERGY STAR refrigerators and freezers can lead to energy savings of as much as 46% with a 1.3 year payback. Purchasers can expect to save $140 annually per refrigerator and $100 per freezer.
  • Install energy-efficient case lighting. T8 fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts reduce lighting energy use and reduce the cooling load on the compressor. Energy savings potential is 10% for beverage merchandisers.
  • Install evaporative condensers, instead of air-cooled condensers, to expel heat. Evaporative condensers use a wetted filter that increases the ability to reject heat. Energy savings range from 3 to 9% for grocery store refrigeration systems.
  • Install heat recovery systems to use heat removed from display cases to heat water. A 7.5 horsepower (hp) compressor can supply close to 100% of the hot water requirements in a medium-sized grocery store all year long.
  • Install lighting sensors in walk-in refrigerators. Install low temperature occupancy sensors or timed switches in walk-in coolers and freezers to control lighting. Not only does this save lighting energy, it reduces the load on the compressor. Save up to $250/year.
  • Install pull-down blinds on open dairy and produce cases. During non-operating hours, these blinds keep refrigerated air from escaping.

Food Service Equipment

  • Install an insulated dishwasher. Replace a 10- to 20-year-old conventional dishwasher with an insulated model and save up to $500 annually. Insulated tanks reduce stand-by or idle energy consumption. A booster heater spends several hours per day consuming energy in a “ready-to-use” mode. Insulated tanks can better maintain an outgoing sanitizing water temperature at all times, thus, reducing stand-by energy consumption.
  • Purchase insulated cooking equipment whenever possible (e.g., fryers, ovens, coffee machines). Insulation retains more heat in the equipment.
  • Replace conventional gas fryers with infrared gas fryers or high-efficiency atmospheric gas fryers and save up to $400/fryer annually.
  • Replace old, high-volume kitchen sprayers with high-velocity, low-flow models, and save up to $1,000 a year in hot water costs.

Employee involvement

  • Educate and encourage employees to be energy-conscious and to offer ideas about how energy can be saved. Employee buy-in and involvement can make or break your company’s efforts to conserve energy.
  • Designate a “responsible party” to be responsible for and to promote good energy practices for the organization and/or facility. This individual should work with management to facilitate energy savings ideas and strategies – optimizing energy use and costs minimizes overhead and operation costs.

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