Improving energy efficiency is important because of its environmental and economic benefits. As global warming is such a threat, we should be looking to make more efficient energy use, even in buildings and factories that might already have reasonable efficiency. Energy efficiency provides not only environmental benefits but also direct financial benefits by reducing energy bills.
Let’s take a more in-depth look into why improving EE is valuable.
Can We Improve What’s Already Deemed Energy Efficient?
To answer this question, we first need to understand what energy efficiency means. Energy efficient appliances and buildings use less energy to achieve the same goal or output as their non-energy efficient counterparts. Think of LED light bulbs, which use less energy to produce the same amount of light. Or home insulation, which means less energy is used to heat or cool your home by reducing heat transfer.
If something is already energy efficient – such as a LED light bulb – is there no room for improvement? Well, in actual fact, there probably is an opportunity to save even more energy. Technological advances mean that what may have had top efficiency in the past may no longer be the top product. And there is also often further opportunity to save by changing human behavior, e.g., remembering to switch off the LED light as more daylight comes in through a window in the morning. Just because your home or building is already pretty energy efficient doesn’t mean you can’t make it even better.
Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency in Commercial Facilities
Commercial facilities would do well to consider if improving energy efficiency is of relevance. Perhaps not surprisingly, commercial buildings use energy in lighting, computers, server rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms, particularly in providing comfortable temperatures. And while the costs of the wages and salaries of the people who use the building are usually much higher than the energy costs, energy costs are still high. But there is another crucial reason for paying attention to energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Since energy efficiency can often improve the internal environment of the building, making it a more pleasant place to work in, improved productivity is commonly a significant additional benefit.
On that note, below are some of the best ways to improve energy efficiency in commercial facilities.
Switch to LED Lighting
Artificial lighting is essential in any building, making the building safe to occupy and use at all hours. It also improves the appearance of the workspace. But the energy use of many lamps adds up! Switching to LED lighting is a reliable and very cost-effective way of improving the energy efficiency of commercial spaces. Per Warehouse Lighting:
- LEDs can last up to 3 times longer in comparison to fluorescent lamps.
- LED lights have zero warm-up time, going straight to full brightness — no more waiting for a light to flicker into operation!
- Replacing older fluorescent lights with LED can more than halve energy usage.
- The initial price of LEDs can be higher. On the other hand, the price gap is much smaller than it used to be.
- LED recycling facilities are hard to find, meaning that they can be difficult to dispose of in an environmentally responsible way.
- Lower quality, or poorly specified LED lights, may produce quite a harsh, blue light color.
Upgrade Your HVAC System
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for the bulk of energy consumption in commercial buildings. If your commercial facility has an old HVAC system, we recommend upgrading. Some things to keep in mind from the US Environmental Protection Agency:
- Energy Star-certified commercial HVAC systems can save 45% in heating and cooling costs.
- Indoor systems are quieter than they were in the past.
- Modern systems may come with humidifiers and purifiers to improve air quality
- The upfront cost of a new HVAC system, covering both the unit, and its installation, are high.
- Replacement may require a site shut down.
- If seeking to reduce dependence on natural gas for space heating, switching to a heat pump is often not straight forward.
Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency in Homes
Alt-text: Infographic of the ways to make your home more energy efficient
Improving energy efficiency at home has plenty of benefits. Not only does it help the environment, but it can also save you money on your utility bills. The following are some ways to improve energy efficiency in your home.
Install Energy Efficient Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances with high energy efficiency ratings can help you save energy and money.
- Energy Star-certified appliances can cut your electric bill by up to $4.50 for every $1 you spend.
- You’ll keep on saving for years!
- Depending on where you live, energy efficient appliances may attract government incentives, such as tax credits.
- They may be more expensive than regular appliances.
Upgrade Cooling and Heating Equipment
Your cooling and heating equipment could be the biggest energy consumer in your home. If outdated, it could be costing you a lot of money. The US Department of Energy says:
- You can save up to 60% on your cooling and heating costs by upgrading your equipment to Energy Star-certified models
- Modern units are usually quieter than the units they replace.
- In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the use of energy, the refrigerants used now have lower global warming potentials than they did in the past.
- The upfront cost can be expensive
Ensure Proper Insulation
Fix air leaks, and add insulation to ceilings, walls and floors. Making sure that your home has proper insulation can Older homes with little or no insulation can cut energy usage by as much as 80% or more.
- In old, poorly insulated facilities, insulation can literally save lives in winter, and in summer heat waves.
- Comfort is improved
- While ceiling and roof insulation can usually be retrofitted fairly easily, improving the insulation of walls is harder.
For commercial facilities and homes, answering why is improving energy efficiency important is a no-brainer! Not only will it help you save money, but it can conserve resourcesreduce environmental harm, and make buildings more pleasant and comfortable to live and work in.
While there are some upfront costs associated with upgrading your home or commercial facilities, the long-term benefits usually outweigh the initial investment. Give some of the above suggestions a try, and you’ll be on your way to becoming more energy-efficient.