Reopening after COVID: Simple Checks Can Save Your Business Energy and Money

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With state restrictions lifting – shops, restaurants, office buildings, and others may soon see their largest crowds in more than a year. Along with considering health and safety for employees and customers, businesses may also be starting up equipment for the first time in months. Energy Trust of Oregon works with businesses of all sizes and says a simple walk-through and checklist can save energy and money during the return to pre-pandemic schedules.

Maintenance

To keep equipment fully functioning, regular maintenance checks are essential. If you are reopening for the first time, it may be helpful to check equipment with a maintenance technician. Bird nests, beehives, and more have all been found in idle equipment and can harm equipment’s operation and airflow. 

Check fans, pumps, motors, dampers, and valve lineups for anything that could cause your heating and cooling system to perform poorly and require more energy than normal. A good first step is to replace you air filter. That along with any other rust or debris can affect equipment’s performance. 

Once the inspection is complete, stagger the startup of your equipment to help reduce energy demand – one piece of equipment per 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb.

HVAC and Air Ventilation

Many businesses are seeking to improve indoor air quality by increasing ventilation in their buildings. Operating their HVAC system around the clock is one way to do that, but it can cause a surge in energy bills. 

To cut down on energy use, businesses can set HVAC controls to use 100 percent outside air while the building is occupied and reduce outside air to zero when the building is empty. During warmer months, especially on the hottest days of the year, use outside air the night before and the night after instead of during the day. This will help minimize cooling hot, outside air which will reduce energy bills. 

You can also save 3% on your full energy bill for every degree you lower the thermostat when heating or by every degree you raise the thermostat when cooling. Other ideas for air ventilation include opening windows when you are not running AC and shading windows during high temperature days. 

You can also caulk doors, windows, pipes, drains, and fireplaces every few years to limit cold and warm air escaping through cracks or gaps in buildings.

Operations

Other ways to help lower operating and energy costs include analyzing layout, programming thermostats, and switching to LED lights. 

If you are not returning to full capacity, consider adjusting programming to only heat or cool spaces that are occupied. Check the thermostat and control schedules to make sure they match your hours of operation.  If your building has no controls, consider adding a smart thermostat to program heating and cooling settings. In terms of lighting, if you switch from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, you can use 75% less energy and LEDs last 25 times longer. 

These and other easy adjustments can lengthen the lifetime of your equipment, while also saving energy and money. Any work in energy efficiency, no matter the size of the project, can strengthen your business, community and all of Oregon. 

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