Energy Saving Tips for Businesses and Schools

The best way to reduce energy costs is to incorporate them into your management strategy. This is most effectively acheived through a written energy management policy that lays out goals for your energy management plan, appoints an energy manager and sets targets for energy savings. This can be done with or without the assistance of a consultant. The Sustainability Victoria website has a lot of useful information on setting up an energy management plan and there are many other resources available on the internet.

For schools and organisations with large premises it is worth setting up a detailed shut down procedure for the end of the day, weekends and holidays, delegating responsibility for shutting down non-essential systems such as hot water, lights, air conditioners, computers, printers, chargers and other electric items.

Air-Conditioning

In Geraldton the biggest bills come in summer, as a result of air-conditioning. Air conditioning pumps heat out of a building. The more heat there is in the building, the harder it has to work and the more power it uses. Therefore, if you want to reduce energy use, you need to help keep heat out. The most effective way to do this is through insulation and external shading on windows.

Insulation: If your building lacks insulation in the roof space then this will represent a significant loss of energy over the year. Instailling insulation is one of the most cost effective methods of significantly reducing your heating and cooling bills.

Shading: When sun shines on a window it heats the air inside. Although blinds or curtains may help stop this heat from spreading, it is much more effective to keep the sun off the window in the first place. Shading from deciduous trees, external blinds, eaves, shade-cloth or verandahs will significantly cut your cooling bill.

Thermostat: Set your thermostat higher. The yourhome.gov.au website suggests that having a thermostat set one degree warmer in summer can reduce air-conditioning energy use by up to 10%. They suggest a setting of between 25ºC and 27ºC in summer.

Natural ventilation: In the early morning, open windows before turning the air-conditioning on to let out trapped heat and stale air.

Night Ventilation: Installing night ventilation systems to cool a room down at night can also make a significant difference.

Consider your options: Older systems are generally much less efficient than modern air-conditioning systems. If you decide to replace your system speak to someone who specialises in energy efficient systems. Chilled beam system and overnight ice storage systems can offer significant savings over the standard ducted monster that is generally on offer in Geraldton.

Hot Water

Check it regularly: Many small businesses and schools have a large number of small electric storage hot water heaters distributed throughout their premises. These should be regularly checked to ensure that the pressure release valve is functioning correctly. If it fails, hot water leaks out and the heating element must run more frequently.

Turn it off: By turning electric storage systems off overnight and at weekends, significant reductions in energy use can be made. This can be done as part of your daily shut down routine or timers can be installed. Obviously this does not apply to off-peak storage systems.

Insulate piping: Where the hot water piping runs any kind of distance it is worth ensuring that his piping is insulated. This will preserve heat in the pipe and mean that hot water at the tap is warmer quicker, which will result in less running time.

Consider your options: If it is time to replace your hot water system consider solar hot water, air source heat pumps and instant gas, all of which can offer substantial savings over electric storage systems.

Lighting

Use natural light: Open the blinds and let some natural light in. Arrange seating and workspaces to take advantage of the natural light and consider installing skylights and light tubes to allow natural light into the centre of the room.

De-lamp: Many workspaces are overlit and there is often plenty of room for de-lamping, the process of removing flouorescent tubes to reduce power use on lighting. The remaining lamps can be equipped with reflectors or brighter quadphosphur tubes to maintain lighting levels.

Use motion sensors: In kitchens, bathrooms, filing areas and storage areas considerable savings can be made by installing a motion sensor to activate the lights.

Light the task: Where high levels of light are needed, for detailed work for example, then employ task lighting rather than maintaining the entire room at a high level of lighting.

Consider your options: Many older fluorescent systems employ a magnetic ballast which uses more electricity than a modern, high-frequency electronic ballast. Magnetic ballasts can also lead to light flicker which may cause discomfort in the work place and can trigger migraines and even epileptic attacks in some people. If you are thinking about replacing lighting it is best done as part of a layout and lighting design aimed at maximising natural light and ensuring that light is sufficient at workspaces but not so bright in walkthrough areas. The standard rows of flourescent lights may not be the best option for your business.

If you would like assistance with reducing your energy use, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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