Office: Major Savings

Office Energy Makeover: 5 Minutes to Major Savings

By Megan Porter

Have you ever seen one of those "home makeover" shows? They have become extremely popular because they show what a team of interior designers can accomplish in an average residence in a very short time.

The actual makeover process usually moves along at a hyper clip, culminating in the big event that everyone anticipates. It's called the "reveal," and it's the moment when the homeowners first experience their newly designed space. Tears flow, everyone hugs and they cut to the credits.

We're certainly not proposing bringing that level of drama to your business. But there is a quick and simple makeover that can leave you rather amazed at the results.

It's called an Office Energy Makeover. But don't let the name fool you; this is not some complex undertaking. In fact, it only takes about five minutes of your time to look over your office space and identify areas where your business can reduce energy costs and save money.

So with that that in mind, roll the cameras and let's get this Office Energy Makeover started.

Scene one: Business owner gets to vent
Our makeover starts with your vents. Are they obstructed by furniture, cabinets, tools or equipment? If they are, it's time to clear a path for unobstructed airflow.

That's a simple step, so how much of a difference can it make? Consider this fact: Blocked vents require 25% more energy to distribute air.1 Which means you can reduce energy costs simply by going with the flow.

Once you clear the space, carefully assess the area around each vent for proper ventilation. Check to see that air flowing from the vent is circulating freely throughout the room. If there are still obstructions that prevent adequate airflow, such as cabinetry or drapes, move them to allow for clear circulation.

In addition, don't keep vents closed in an effort to save energy. Doing so can actually change the way air is distributed and cause an imbalance to the operation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.2

Finally, remember to check any vents on the floor. It can be more difficult to keep these areas clear of obstructions.

Scene two: Seal the deal
Now our Office Energy Makeover takes us to your doors and windows. Do you feel any drafts there?

A-ha! The window in your conference room is slightly drafty. No big concern, right? Actually, it's an energy and money waster for your business and it's an easy energy efficiency fix.

You can stop costly drafts and reduce energy costs at your business by adding weatherstripping, caulking or foam. For a minimal investment, these measures may significantly reduce energy costs.

First, insulate around windows and doors to reduce drafts. In addition, use caulking to seal ducts, plumbing openings, recessed lighting and any other openings that allow air leaks in walls, floors and ceilings.

Here's another important point: Choose a type of weatherstripping that will withstand the friction, weather, temperature changes, and wear and tear associated with its location.

For example, when applied to a door bottom or threshold, weatherstripping could drag on carpeting or erode as a result of foot traffic. Weatherstripping in a window sash must accommodate the sliding of panes up and down, sideways or out. The weatherstripping you choose should seal well when the door or window is closed but allow it to open freely.

Scene three: Made in the shade
Your windows aren't drafty any more. That energy efficiency fix-up was a good idea. But we're not finished with those windows just yet. The final step in our Office Energy Makeover is all about keeping your cool.

Windows let in the sun and the heat, and that can make it more expensive to cool an interior space. If that describes your windows, don't despair. There are some smart ways to keep the heat outside where it belongs and reduce energy costs.

Here is a quick overview of some window treatments that can help reduce heat gain and increase energy efficiency for your office space.

  • Solar screen window shades are one of the simplest and most effective window treatments for saving energy. For optimum efficiency, consider using dual shades. They have a highly reflective white surface on one side for warm weather months and a heat-absorbing dark side that can be reversed with the seasons.
  • Window awnings can significantly reduce solar heat gain. They are most effective on south- and west-facing windows.
  • Window blinds let you adjust the slats to control light and ventilation. If partially raised, the blinds allow some air and daylight to enter through windows.
  • High-reflectivity window films are best used in climates with long cooling seasons because they also block the sun's heat in the winter. Silver, mirror-like films typically are more effective than the colored, more transparent ones.

That concludes our Office Energy Makeover. Except for the best part, the big "reveal." That will happen when you see how much these simple steps have lowered your energy bill.

Ready for more good energy efficiency ideas? You can find many more smart practices in "25 Money-Saving Tips for Businesses" from PG&E. These steps range from simple, low-cost steps to high-impact energy management tips that can lead to significant savings, and there are options for businesses in every industry.

Referenced in article:

Give your business an Office Energy Makeover in just 5 minutes:
  • 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.

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