The growing pressure for businesses to “go green” can be a bit intimidating – especially for small business owners with an already full plate. After all, time and money are not always in top supply! Fortunately, with a bit of guidance and know-how, there are a number of easier, less-expensive projects that will ultimately cut costs and maximize a building’s energy efficiency.
From properly insulating windows to getting the best out of natural light, there are no shortage of do-it-yourself projects around the office. These useful tips will not only insure a cleaner, greener facility, but will also save big bucks in the end, while making employees and customers proud to tout your company.
Regardless of season or climate, proper insulation is crucial. Most eco-friendly insulation is cheap, relatively easy to install, and will drastically improve heating/cooling efficiency. In addition, properly positioned insulation will improve air quality by decreasing condensation within a facility.
Much of the heat within a building escapes through the roof. When replacing or building a new roof, always insulate. Depending on local climate, consider installing radiant barriers. This will help reflect radiant heat in the summer months.
Make sure all exterior walls are properly insulated to insure heating and cooling efficiency. Check for any gaps in windows or doors that might cause heat to escape. These can easily be fixed with weather stripping, spray foam or caulking.
2. Consider Windows
That’s right – windows are not only a major source of natural light (an important consideration for a greener facility), but can also be a huge contributor to hot/cold air loss. When considering a window frame, vinyl, wood, and fiberglass frames offer more thermal resistance than metal ones.
True or False? All glass more or less looks and behaves the same.
If you guessed true… then I suggest you read on! The truth is that cheap, single-paned glass can end up draining your energy and costing you way more in the long run. Consider double or triple-paned glass, as well as insulated window glazing to insure maximum efficiency. Gas fills (inert gas between multiple panes) can also help with insulation. When considering such options, be sure to pick low-emissivity coating or glazing. The increase in price is negligible compared with the increase in energy efficiency!
Depending on climate and personal preference, the style of window you install is also important. Casement windows – which are attached to the frame via hinges – are a pretty safe bet year-round. The addition of screens for warmer months and storm windows for cooler months make this a pretty versatile style for regulating temperature.
3. Evaluate Doors
The doors in your facility can make a huge difference with regard to insulation, space efficiency and temperature regulation. Screen doors are a great way to maximize natural light and regulate temperature in the warmer months. These are generally inexpensive and easy to install, making them a wise investment for the future.
When picking put or replacing exterior doors, it’s always a good bet to check for the Energy Star label to insure you are getting an eco-friendly product.
4. Reduce Wasted Electricity
Aside from changes to a building’s design, there are a number of measures one can take in order to stretch the energy bill to the fullest extent. For one, many appliances continue to use power after they are turned off – assuming they are still plugged in. Use multi-outlet power strips that can be turned off and unplugged when not in use.
Fans – window units, ceiling and stand-alone – are a great way to keep airflow circulating, thus decreasing energy consumption. The amount of energy they actually consume is more or less negligible. If you do use an AC system, be sure to regularly change your HVAC filters.
Let’s face it: running a business uses energy – and plenty of it! Fortunately, the push to decrease a facility’s carbon footprint does not have to be an expensive, time-consuming endeavor. A few simple changes can yield substantial results – for your electric bill and for the health of our planet. So consider these tips, put them into practice, and take pride in how you run your business!