The COVID 19 pandemic drove businesses to close their office doors and ask employees to work from home. With reduced office commutes, business travel, and office utility use, outdoor air quality improved dramatically. In fact, according to Science Daily, nitrogen dioxide pollution over northern China, Western Europe and the U.S. decreased by as much as 60 percent in early 2020 as compared to the same time last year. And if you’re a business owner, you might have noticed that your energy bill was significantly lower these past three months in comparison to the same months in 2019.
As the world slowly shifts back to the office, how do businesses keep energy costs low? Go Smart Solar and Lake | Flato Architects have come up with 19 tangible ways your business can continue to keep energy costs low.
Optimizations your employees can make in the office:
A lot of the legwork will come from your employees so it’s important to encourage them to be aware of their consumption daily and ensure they understand best practices to reduce energy usage.
1.Turn the lights off
Turn lighting and all nonessential equipment off before leaving the office. Some businesses may have employees in the office 24/7 and in that case we recommend 2nd and 3rd shift employees sit in a common area so they can use the same light source.
2.Use laptops instead of desktops
If possible, use laptops for employees instead of desktops. Not only do they use less energy, but it will be easier for employees to transfer between the office and working from home.
3.Reduce use of elevators
Encourage employees to use the stairs instead of elevators. This not only reduces energy use, but helps employees avoid an area where physical distancing is difficult.
4.Say no to mini fridges
Ensure employees are not running excessive appliances at their desk such as mini refrigerators or heaters.
5.Set the break room refrigerator temp
If you have a refrigerator in the breakroom, ensure that the temperature is set between 37° & 40° degrees Fahrenheit.
6.Take advantage of daylight
Take advantage of daylight and reduce electric lighting needs by locating working areas near windows.
Use operable windows to maximize ventilation and reduce mechanical outdoor air needs. This prevents virus spread and can also reduce energy use.
8.Turn fans on
Ensure there are fans throughout the building and that they remain turned on. Air conditioning systems can run at higher cooling set points and still provide thermal comfort when using fans.
Keep the thermostat level comfortable for all employees and try to prevent employees from adjusting the thermostat.
10.Maintain your HVAC unit
Invest in maintenance of your heating and air conditioning unit at least once a year to optimize your equipment’s performance.
11.Use Energy Star Portfolio
Understand your consumption by entering your utility data into Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Need help? Send us a message and we’ll direct you to the right place.
12.Ensure your building is energy efficient
Are you moving to a new office building? Ask for an energy audit to make sure the new building is energy efficient.
13.Use sustainably focused office designs
Thinking about building a new office? Find a sustainability and health focused architectural firm to lead the design.
Participate in renewable energy:
Businesses need energy to operate. Reducing energy loads to zero is not feasible so look for budget friendly ways to convert to air quality friendly energy sources like solar.
14.Big Sun Community Solar
[Almost sold out!] The Big Sun Community Solar program, chosen by CPS Energy, is a way for businesses to receive the benefits of solar energy without having to install solar panels on your roof. You may not own the building or don’t want to install more equipment on the roof. Big Sun will build, maintain, and insure your solar system offsite so you can reduce your energy bill for 25 years, and receive a 26% tax credit. Learn more at bigsun.cpsenergy.com
CPS Energy Programs your business can apply for:
There are many programs CPS Energy has in place to help San Antonio businesses reduce their energy consumption and ultimately save on their electricity bill.
15.Save Now Incentives
CPS Energy has a variety of incentives small business owners and commercial companies can take advantage of with their Save Now program. Read case studies and learn more at CPS Energy.
16.Commercial Demand Response
[June 1st 2020 – September 30th 2020 Only!] CPS Energy’s Commercial Demand Response program is a program where CPS Energy will pay you to voluntarily reduce the amount of electricity your business uses during a conservation event, when statewide demand for power use is at its highest. Learn more at CPS Energy.
Ways you can motivate your employees:
Educating your employees about best practices for reducing energy consumption is much different than actually putting the guidelines into practice. It’s important to engage your employees and help them feel a part of the solution.
17.Assign a sustainability advocate
Designate an employee as a sustainability advocate that will help ensure employees follow best practices such as turning off nonessential equipment when not in use or be in charge of thermostat settings.
18.Host a “Sustainability Happy Hour”
Throw a “Sustainability Happy Hour” for employees if the building is able to reduce energy consumption from month to month.
19.Work from home
Allow employees to work from home 2 to 3 days out of the week.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you gradually shift back into the office!