Thirty percent of energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, according to the US Dept. of Energy. But where does it go?
The answer: energy monsters.
There’s a good chance that your building has fallen victim to several common monsters who are leeching off your energy supply and costing more money than you realize. They lurk in the cracks and crevices, above your head and below, and just far enough out of sight that you forget they’re there. We’ve identified the top 5 energy monsters, so keep reading and learn how arm your building and banish them for good.
1. Vampire Energy
We didn’t come up with this clever name just for Halloween; vampire energy is a real monster that can cost you money if you’re not careful. Even when not in use, electronic devices and appliances will continue to draw power, this is known as vampire energy or phantom load. For example, a cell phone charger left plugged in will draw .26 watts, and 2.24 watts when connected to a fully charged device. Although these numbers seem small, they can add up and cost more money in the long run. Let’s say you have 25 employees who use desktop computers and leave them in “sleep” mode for 14 hours overnight. Assuming you pay the national average of $0.12/kWh, this would cost you an additional $324 over the course of a year!
Quick Fix: The good news is that you don’t need to invest in garlic and silver to protect your building or your budget. Turning off electronics before leaving the office will reduce vampire energy costs and it’s easy to do with smart power strips, which turn off multiple devices at once.
2. Fire-breathing Fixtures
OK, they don’t really breathe fire, but incandescent, halogen, and metal halide bulbs do produce a significant amount of heat. These light sources can reach an excess of 350 degrees just from the heat of the lamp itself. Of the energy put into creating light, 60-80% is dissipated as non light, or heat. If you have a well-lit space, chances are you’re spending a lot of money to reduce the heat generated by your light fixtures. Plus, your HVAC system has to work harder, which leads to unnecessary wear and tear and increases maintenance costs.
Quick Fix: Arm your fortress with LED bulbs. They’re easy to swap for traditional fixtures, plus LED prices have dropped, which means you’ll see a quick payback. In addition to generating less heat, LEDs use 75% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 10-15 years.
3. Evil Exit Signs
The EPA estimates there are 100 million exit signs in use today in the US, consuming 30-35 billion kWh annually. Since exit signs lurk in every commercial building and are always on, they cost us about $2-3 billion in each year.
Quick Fix: You can stop those devilish red bulbs from burning up your budget by switching to LED exit signs. Energy efficient signs can provide up to $300 in lifetime savings compared to their incandescent evil counterparts.
4. Wicked Water Wasters
The water used in your commercial building requires a lot of energy to get from the utility to your faucet, and that energy costs money. Electric utility rates have been growing by 2.5% annually, and water rates are going up more than twice that, at 5.85%. Add the growing water costs and the higher energy rates and you’ve got a monster lurking in the office bathroom! Plus, if you have a faucet or pipe leaking at a rate of one drip per second, you’re wasting over 3,000 gallons of water each year.
Quick Fix: Installing low-flow fixtures will help you slay this water demon. For example, converting a traditional faucet to an efficient low-flow faucet can save over 10,000 gallons of water each year (assuming avg. use of 30 min each business day) and save $50 in annual water costs. However, if we consider the energy required to heat the water, the savings jump to $100/year. If you have 2 bathrooms with 3 faucets each, that’s a potential $300-600 annual savings!
5. Monster Energy Rates
Remember the old campfire tale about the bill monster? You know, that enormous hairy beast who waits for the postman to leave, then emerges from the bushes to stuff your mailbox full of bills? No, don’t remember that one? If you shudder every time you think of the bill monster, we’ve got a way to fight back with the rates on your electric bill.
If you’re operating in a deregulated state and haven’t secured a lower rate from a third-party energy broker, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Even a small two-cent rate reduction can lead to big savings. Obtaining a new rate costs nothing and current energy procurement technology keeps the bidding process transparent, ensuring you get the lowest possible rate available. If you’re interested in learning how a few pennies can save you thousands, click here.