Sustainability has become one of the biggest national conversations. Consumers are continually looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many are willing to pay more to buy from companies who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable and environmental friendliness.
As businesses around the country experience disruptions in their typical cash flow, many are looking for ways to cut costs. Energy efficiency is one of the easiest avenues for improving your profit — but it will do more than just help you decrease energy expenses.
Energy efficiency can also make you seem more reputable to potential customers and help you feel better about the steps you’re taking to preserve the environment. Most importantly, it can be easy to significantly improve your business’s energy efficiency with the right investments.
Here are ten energy-efficient changes any tech business will want to invest in:
1) Sealed Heating and Cooling Ducts
Having a poor seal on heating and cooling ducts — or no seal at all — can reduce your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system’s efficiency. That means you’ll need to use more energy to get your office to the right temperature. Having your building’s air ducts inspected for worn sealing, and sealing them again, if necessary, can help you save energy.
If you have your HVAC system’s seals inspected, you can also take the opportunity to check or replace your air filters. Worn-out air filters can reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency and even cause damage over time.
2) Power Strips
Even equipment in sleep mode still draws power. Plugging office equipment into a power strip rather than directly into an outlet is a great way to avoid “phantom power” — or energy use from unused equipment. When you wrap up work for the day, safely turn off all devices and then switch off the power strips to cover any you may have missed. Doing this can ensure these appliances don’t draw power overnight when no one is in the office.
3) Natural Lighting
Some areas will need less lighting than others if they receive enough natural illumination. If your office space has large windows, take advantage of them. Avoid blocking them with furniture and open the blinds. You may be surprised by how much natural lighting can reduce the need for artificial lights in certain rooms.
4) Improved Airflow
A stuffy or humid office can feel hotter than it actually is. To make your office feel more comfortable, you don’t necessarily need to turn down the temperature. Improving the room’s airflow may be enough. Use fans throughout the area to circulate air. If the outside temperature is about the same as the temperature indoors, and you’re not running your office air conditioning, opening windows may also help with enhancing airflow.
Consider a dehumidifier if you live in an area particularly prone to humid summers, like the American South. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends a humidity level between 20% and 60% — if your office humidity is higher than this, it may be causing discomfort.
5) LED Lighting
Upgrading to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is one of the quickest ways for offices to save money and energy. LED lights are more energy-efficient and powerful than other lighting types. They last longer, too, meaning you won’t have to worry about replacing them as often.
In some states, the use of specific lighting solutions is mandated. In California, for example, you can’t buy halogen or incandescent bulbs as of January 1, 2020. If you need to replace a light in one of these states, you may need to upgrade — and LEDs are one of the most sustainable lighting choices available.
6) Smart Lighting
Smart office systems can manage your lighting automatically, adjusting your light sources throughout the day as your office’s needs change. These programs also minimize the use of office lights for higher energy savings.
Many of these systems can also automatically turn out the lights if it’s past a certain hour or if the system detects no one is in the office. This ability helps you keep the lights out after office hours and shrink your lighting bills.
7) Programmable Temperature Control
You can also use programmable temperature controls within your building. These will allow you to set operating hours for your HVAC system, ensuring that the building isn’t being unnecessarily temperature controlled in the middle of the night. Smart thermostats prevent your HVAC from running and wasting energy when no one is at the office, much like smart lighting solutions.
8) LEED-Certified Buildings
One of the best ways to reduce electricity consumption is to start with a building that’s built from the ground up for energy efficiency. The next time you need to move offices, consider looking for a building with LEED certification or another green, energy-efficient building certification.
These certifications are third-party confirmations that your building aligns with the recommended best practices for sustainable structures. These buildings often come with energy-saving features like insulation and low-E windows that preserve energy over time without any effort needed on your part — aside from regular upkeep.
9) Renewable Energy Systems
You can go even further and outfit your office with renewable energy systems. Small-scale solar tech is at the most advanced it’s ever been, and multiple companies are manufacturing photovoltaic solar panels, batteries and other solar equipment designed for private use.
Adding solar panels probably won’t allow you to take your office off the grid, but it will provide you with some extra, clean power. If you generate energy your office doesn’t need, you may even be able to sell it back to your power company.
10) Work-From-Home Opportunities
Fewer people in the office means less money spent on heating and cooling, and you may not have to light specific rooms if enough individuals work from home. Depending on the kind of work your business does, it may be possible to go fully remote every so often. This ability will allow you to keep the lights and HVAC system off, saving your business even more money.
Plus, your employees won’t have to commute when they work from home. Driving to work is one of the biggest culprits of work-related energy consumption.
Creating and Following Through on an Energy Efficiency Plan
Now is probably one of the best times to make the changes necessary for a more energy-efficient office. The impact of energy consumption has become a national topic — one that’s not likely to go away any time soon. At the same time, it’s become easier than ever to implement sustainable tech like smart thermometers and LED lighting.
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, DesignRoast.org, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.