For many facilities, summer electric bills rise right along with the temperature. Reducing electricity use during the summer months can substantially lower your operating costs. While inspecting and cleaning your cooling system is a great place to start, you should not stop there.
The following five strategies can help you increase energy efficiency and maintain occupant comfort during those warm days of summer:
- Adjust building temperatures. Set the thermostat in your work areas to 78°F during work hours, and raise the setting to 85°F when the space is unoccupied. These specific recommendations may not apply to public spaces, but the idea is to raise temperatures to reduce energy use while ensuring comfort. The energy savings can be significant, as much as 2 percent of your air conditioning costs for each 1 degree that you raise the thermostat. Use a programmable thermostat to automate settings and optimize savings. Consider allowing employees to wear lighter clothing during hot weather to increase their comfort and reduce the need for cooling.
- Install window film. Solar control window films applied to existing glass on south- and west-facing windows is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning is needed. Spectrally selective window films reduce heat gain while transmitting more light than standard window films. In addition to the energy-saving benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and decrease glare.
- Cool down your roof. Your roof absorbs a substantial amount of heat from the sun, reducing comfort on hot summer days and making your air conditioning system work harder. Cool roofs are made with special materials that reflect sunlight and absorb less heat, lowering surface temperatures and keeping your building cooler. Not only will a cool roof make your facility more comfortable, it will save you money by reducing the need for air conditioning.
- Harvest daylight. Install dimming controls to take advantage of that bright (and free) summer light and reduce your need for costly artificial light. Digital photo sensors monitor the amount of light in a room. As natural light coming through windows increases during the day, the controls will dim or turn off overhead lights, saving energy and maintaining light levels. Dimming, combined with spectrally selective window films, will reduce your summer lighting and cooling loads.
- Circulate the air. Circulating air fans range from small desk units for locally controlled airflow, to high-volume fans suspended from the ceiling. Air circulation helps building occupants feel cooler by directly enhancing evaporation from the skin, reducing the need for air conditioning. Large ceiling fans are particularly effective in circulating air throughout a space. In some circumstances, the use of a ceiling fan may allow you to raise the thermostat temperature setting 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort to building occupants.
Looking for more ways to save this summer?
Check out all of our energy-saving tips.
Need a new cooling system?
If your cooling system is more than 15 years old or in need of significant repair, consider upgrading to a new, energy-efficient unit. While the installation costs can be substantial, the savings in energy and maintenance costs can lead to a quick return on your investment.
Federal, state, and local financial incentives may be available to help reduce the cost of your investment. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) for information about incentives available in your area.