12 Energy Efficiency Tips from EDF 'Elves'

12 Energy Efficiency Tips from EDF 'Elves'

“They know when you are sleeping. They know when you’re awake. They know if your lights are on or off, so switch ‘em off for heaven’s sake!”

Utilities don’t take time off from monitoring your energy usage during the holidays. You know to switch off your decorative lights and turn down your heater to lower energy costs at home during this time of year. But don’t forget the area where energy reduction efforts can have the greatest impact -- your business.

In the spirit of the holiday season, EDF’s Climate Corps team wanted to share our top 12 energy tips to help your business be an energy efficient one all year long. (We didn’t have time to set this to a tune, but feel free to hum along).

1. Consult Employees. Employees are often aware of energy opportunities in their immediate work areas. Tap into your existing workforce to seek out areas where your company can improve. For example, Cummins provides a 12-week-long energy training course for its employees before sending them out on all-day treasure hunts to search for  energy savings in its offices.

2. Mine your organization for expertise. While no one person is likely to be an expert in every area of energy management, you can learn a lot by seeking out knowledge from your facilities managers, engineers and LEED Accredited Professionals. Our Climate Corps fellow at PepsiCo found internal expertise to be his most important resource during his time there.

3. Install PC power management software. According to a survey of large offices by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, more than 50 percent of desktop PCs are left on overnight. Installing PC power management software is an easy way to ensure this equipment isn’t drawing energy when not in use. See what our Climate Corps fellow recommended for PCs at eBay.

4. Evaluate the occupancy of lit spaces. Lights are all too often left on in unoccupied areas, costing your company unnecessary energy fees. Our Climate Corps fellow at AT&T found lights in certain spaces to be on roughly half the time, while the spaces were occupied less than ten percent of the time. She recommended occupancy sensors that would lead to an 80 percent savings in electricity use.

5. Set your thermostat back. The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a study stating “by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save about 5 percent -- 15 percent a year on your heating bill -- a savings of as much as one percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.” See what our Climate Corps fellow at News Corp. did at a Dow Jones printing plant.

6. Install solar window films. Such films can reject up to 60 percent of solar heat coming through windows in summer and help retain it in the winter, which keeps your HVAC system from working overtime. See what our Climate Corps fellow at Alcatel-Lucent suggested for keeping the heat out.

7. Appoint an energy officer. Our Climate Corps fellows at The JBG Companies say “if you don’t have an energy officer, you’re company is probably wasting energy…and money.” Energy officers allow your company to stay current on energy technologies, communicate across the firm, incorporate energy efficiency into the planning process and implement projects.

8. Analyze information with the right tools. The DOE provides a number of tools to help companies implement and evaluate energy projects. Our Climate Corp fellow at Verizon analyzed data center energy management issues using the DOE's DC Pro tool to identify potential savings of 4.4 million kWh per year.

9. Question whether your building is operating as designed. Only 5 percent of existing buildings have been commissioned. Our Climate Corps fellow at Xerox recommended retrocommissioning, which typically saves a company about 5-15 percent in energy costs.

10. Expand successful initiatives across your portfolio. While translating energy projects across SunGard’s portfolio of data centers, our Climate Corps fellow at SunGard recommended laying the groundwork one data center at a time. Although  the experience of one business unit does not necessarily translate directly to another business unit, companies can reap significant savings by sharing best practices and success stories across sites.

11. Translate that stack of electric bills into meaningful data. Look for kWh usage and kW demand figures on your electric bills. Carefully review your local utility’s rate plan and separate usage and demand, paying attention to areas of particular interest – service charges, meter reading, etc. Our Climate Corps fellow at Sunrise Preschools dissected the company's energy bill and discovered savings almost instantly.

12. Hire a Climate Corps fellow. One of the simplest, quickest ways to find energy saving opportunities for your company is to hire a Climate Corps fellow. Just last summer, our fellows found a whopping $350 million in energy savings at 47 companies. Plus, they can help with numbers 1-11 above. We are currently accepting company applications for 2011.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season -- complete with oodles of energy savings!

-- The EDF Climate Corps Team

This content is cross-posted at the EDF Innovation Exchange.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user MSVG.