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Energy and Water Conservation Tips for Maintenance Shops

All maintenance shops - whether they are small, medium or large - use lighting, heating and air conditioning, power for computer systems and equipment, and water on a continual basis. Not only do these resources affect our environment, but they can be costly to a business’ bottom line. By taking the following steps at your facility, you can significantly reduce your electricity, gas and water bills and protect the planet at the same time.

  1. Install efficient light bulbs. According to Energy Star, Energy Star-qualified Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) consume about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, resulting in about $30 or more in energy savings over each bulb's lifetime. CFLs have come a long way in the last few years: Their costs have dropped and there is a bulb for just about any application. Switching to CFLs is easy to do and can yield a quick payback in savings.

    Most businesses have the T12 fluorescent lights bulbs (1.5 diameter) which are as not as energy efficient as the newer T8 fluorescent tubes (1.0 diameter). Consider switching to the T8 tubes for extra savings.

  2. Switch to LED exit signs. Most shops have several of these and switching to an LED exit sign can save $10 per sign in electricity costs. In addition, because they have a long life, the LED exit signs don’t need the regular replacements that existing signs do.

  3. Install motion sensors. Also known as cccupancy sensors, motion sensors detect activity in areas where they are installed. They can automatically turn lights on and off by sensing motion. Motion sensors can save on lighting costs. This is especially important for facilities with areas that are infrequently used such as warehouses, break rooms, employee rest rooms and supply rooms.

  4. Use smart power strips. Smart power strips monitor and manage power usage by computers and other electrical devices.  Computers and their peripherals such as printers, fax machines, monitors, copiers and hard drives suck up power even when they are not in use. Smart power strips can detect when these devices are in use or idle and can then turn them off automatically. Smart power strips can save up to 72% of the power your systems use and additionally provide surge protection.

  5. Install programmable thermostats. Programmable thermostats give you flexibility to adjust heating and air conditioning temperatures based on time of day, seasonal changes and occupancy. For instance, in the winter time you can program the temperature to the lowest level that is comfortable for tenants and in the summertime to the highest level that is tolerable. You can adjust the thermostat lower when there are fewer occupants in the building or even program it to automatically turn off the heating or air for a predetermined time before close of business e.g. 30-60 minutes before the end of the business day.

  6. Implement lighting timer controls.  Timer controls are available for indoor and outdoor lighting. They can be programmed to automatically turn lights on and off based on a schedule. Solar timer controls can control outdoor lighting based on the time of sunrise and sunset for your location.

  7. Install water efficient fixtures.  By installing water efficient fixtures, you can save thousands of gallons of water. Installing low flow toilets and urinals allows you to conserve a significant amount of water each day. Low flow faucet aerators are cheap and easy to install and can achieve an immediate return on investment. If your facility has showers, consider replacing the standard showerheads with water saving showerheads such as a water efficient 1.5 gallon-per-minute showerhead.

Jaishree Knauff, founder of Conservation Mart, works with businesses and home owners to increase their energy savings.

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