Energy Efficiency

Energy Management After Hours

By Megan Porter

Even after most employees have gone home, small and mid-sized businesses can continue to save money with energy efficient products. Occupancy and motion sensors can boost the efficiency of lighting, heating and cooling applications. Energy efficient exterior lighting can improve security, reduce costs and enhance building appearance after sundown and during off-peak times.

Below you’ll find a few methods for managing your energy use when your business is quiet.

Light-emitting diode (LED) technology is simply a smarter, more sustainable way to illuminate interior and exterior spaces. LEDs use at least 70% less energy and last 20 times longer than incandescent lighting and five times longer than fluorescent lighting.1 These advantages don’t end after hours. LED lighting turns on and off instantly, it doesn’t flicker and it is well suited to dimming. That makes it a great fit for use with indoor motion sensors and systems that dial back lighting levels when less light is needed.

Another advantage of LED lighting is that it’s highly directional. It’s the perfect choice for walkways, parking lots and garages where it’s important, both from an aesthetic and security standpoint, to have uniform, targeted light distribution without dark spots.

By equipping your exterior LEDs with motion sensors, employees and delivery people will always know when an outside area, such as a loading dock, is occupied. They’ll have light available where it’s needed, and you’ll save energy when it isn’t.

2016 rebate amounts for LED lighting2

  • $15.00-$80.00/fixture for LED interior high-bay lighting
  • $40-$200/fixture for LED exterior area lighting
  • $8.00-$15.50/fixture for LED accent/directional lighting

Automatic sensors and software
Why pay to light, temperature control and supply power to a space when no one is using it? Energy saving technology adjusts to conditions automatically and constantly, which can provide added savings compared to simpler timed controls.

  • Occupancy sensors can help save money during the day by turning off lights when a break room, bathroom or conference room is empty. But they can do a lot more than that. Some occupancy sensors can be incorporated into a building’s HVAC systems, and automatically adjust to provide the right comfort level, or significantly reduce heating/cooling if no one is present.3

    Sensors also contribute to energy and cost savings because lamps are used less frequently and won’t need to be replaced as often.
  • Computer network desktop power management software allows for centralized control of sleep mode and shutdown settings of networked PCs and monitors.4
  • Plug load occupancy sensors turn on office equipment and task lighting when the space is occupied and turn them off when it’s not.5

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
HVAC is the biggest energy consumer for most businesses, so it can represent the biggest opportunity to reduce energy costs.

  • Programmable thermostats. Programming a thermostat to drop 7-10 degrees for eight hours when employees are away might seem like a simple approach to savings, and it is. But it’s also meaningful. You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by programming your thermostat. More sophisticated thermostats can adapt to your business’s HVAC needs and even learn your work schedule.6
  • Air-conditioning economizers. Air-conditioning economizers bring in outside air when it’s cool outside to supplement demand from a building’s AC system. An air-conditioning economizer makes the most sense if your business operates after sundown, or you need to cool equipment — like servers or other electronics — outside of normal business hours.7
  • Demand-controlled ventilation. A demand-controlled ventilation system reads the number of occupants in a room and adjusts fan speeds and air intake accordingly. If rooms are used less in off-hours, the system automatically adjusts.8

Incorporating smart sustainable products can make your business more energy efficient, help reduce energy costs and make your workplace more sustainable. Plus, upgrades can be surprisingly affordable by taking advantage of rebates and 0% interest On-Bill Financing.

Learn more by downloading PG&E’s eBook, “20 Sustainable Products to Help Businesses Save Money and Energy.”


  1. ENERGY STAR, Commercial Light Fixtures
  2. PG&E’s Lighting Rebate Catalog
  3. PG&E, “20 Sustainable Products to Help Businesses Save Money and Energy.”
  4. ENERGY STAR, “Put Your Computers to Sleep.”
  5. GSA Public Building Service, “Plug Load Control.”
  6. U.S. Department of Energy, “Tips: Programmable Thermostats.”
  7. ENERGY STAR, “Air-Side Economizer.”
  8. U.S. Department of Energy, “Promising Technology: Demand Control Ventilation.”

Energy Management After Hours
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

Stay Informed

  • Energy Advisor eNewsletter
    Sign up for PG&E's monthly Energy Advisor for Business eNewsletter to stay informed of the latest news and tools for managing your business's energy use and costs.
    Subscribe »
  • Sustainability Journey
  • In the Dark? Receive Outage Alerts
  • My Energy Usage