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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Upgrading Your Office
When you think of office upgrades, what do you think of? Stress? Costs? Difficult-to-understand technology? It can be pretty overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be. While it can be hard to know exactly what to do if you’re not an office design specialist, a good place to start is to know what to avoid. Below are four mistakes you don’t want to make when upgrading your office.
- Taking a hands-off approach with your contractor.
Sure, office upgrades can be daunting, and you’d be wise to rely on experts to guide the process, but only you know your business’s priorities. Forge a partnership with contractors so they know what you want and you know how they intend to deliver it, every step of the way. A well-planned, well-executed installation can make all the difference. For example, a quality installation of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit can yield savings as much as 36% for air conditioning units and heat pumps and 18% for furnaces.1
Balance is key here. You don’t want to micromanage in a field outside your expertise, but if your contractor is unsure of what kind of solutions you’re open to pursuing, you may miss out on savings. In Northern California, one-third of a typical commercial building’s energy usage comes from HVAC systems.2 Making sure that third is used in ways you see value is important. When working with a contractor, be sure to set clearly defined goals, get a detailed estimate, set a schedule, sign a proposal and outline how the installation will go, so there are few surprises along the way and a clear vision is executed.3
- Stopping the contractor relationship after installation.
Chances are good your upgrade installation contractor will be the same contractor you work through for regular maintenance. While it’s tempting once a major project is over to simply let the relationship lie until the HVAC unit demands your attention again, keeping in touch with your contractor and scheduling regular maintenance and checkups can save you money and energy in the long run.
Regular maintenance helps ensure everything is running as efficiently and effectively as it should, so quiet issues don’t go unchecked for long periods of time, draining resources. For example, implementing a maintenance program can save you as much as $500 per unit annually for rooftop HVAC systems, as equipment is continually optimized and its service-life prolonged. On top of that, having a maintenance plan in place can aid in compliance with California’s Title 24 sustainability guidelines.4
- Not exploring alternative lighting options.
Incandescent lighting has been firmly entrenched in common areas for decades. While the more energy-conscious among us have made the transition to fluorescent lamps, they aren’t always the best fit – or the best value. LEDs have gained significant traction in the business world, especially as their price has come down and the technology has been refined. In fact, most LED lamps cost less than $10, while studies show they are up to 10 times more energy efficient and last up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs.5
LEDs stack up favorably against fluorescents in many cases, too. With a lifespan two to five times longer than your average compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), LEDs also give off less heat, making less work for your climate control systems. That isn’t the only temperature aspect to consider when stacking up CFLs against LEDs either. For refrigerated and frozen-food case lighting, LEDs are likely your best bet, since CFLs operate at peak efficiency in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In colder spaces, their output can drop by as much as 60%. Be sure to discuss with your contractor which lighting options are best for your business.6
- Not making energy efficiency a priority.
While certain sustainability measures are necessary to ensure compliance with Title 24, it can be easy to think of energy efficiency as something that’s nice to have to fulfill corporate social responsibility, even if at times it’s at the cost of your bottom line. That’s not the case, though. Energy efficiency can drive big savings; in fact, energy-conscious upgrades can pay for themselves quite easily.
Now, when we discuss energy efficiency, we don’t just mean simply conserving energy. Turning out the lights when you leave the room is great – and important – but the kind of energy efficiency involved with office upgrades is often more concerned with doing more with the energy you do use. Smart energy use, while good for the environment, can also yield great business results, such as adding capacity without increasing costs.7
As you can see, making the right calls when upgrading your office isn’t so hard. It starts with not making the wrong ones.
To learn more ways to get the most out of your office upgrade, read PG&E’s eBook, "How to Get the Best Results from a Lighting or HVAC Project."
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