Energy Saving Tips
Saving energy makes good business sense. Learn what steps you can take to improve energy efficiency and try out our automated benchmarking service.
What is automated benchmarking?
Automated Benchmarking Service (ABS) works with Energy Star's Portfolio Manager and enables building owners to identify poorly performing buildings and provides baseline data and the means for comparing performance of similar buildings. Building owners and operators can enter building data for benchmarking building energy performance. Once this is established and shared with Avista, the last 12 months of usage data can then be uploaded with continued monthly uploads without any extra effort by building owners through the ABS.
Does your building qualify?
Most building types are supported, including colleges, K-12 school buildings, residence halls, dormitories, multifamily housing, houses of worship, courthouses, supermarkets, medical and health care facilities, hotels and motels, warehouses, and more. View other qualifying operating characteristics.
How to get started
View the Energy Star's Portfolio Quick Start Guide for step-by-step instructions to help you get started.
You will need to create an account on Energy Star's Portfolio Manager website. Once this is done, the following items are needed:
- Basic building data for each building you wish to benchmark
- Meter number (9-digits, including leading zeroes when necessary). Meter numbers entered into Portfolio Manager must match our records. How to find your meter number (PDF).
- Initiate the sharing process and select Avista Utilities from the drop down menu.
- Complete Permission to Release Utility data agreement.
- Share your meters with Avista providing full read/write access with Data Exchange.
After Avista receives and validates the building owner's meter sharing request, Avista will begin to automatically upload usage data to Portfolio Manager and will continue to on a monthly basis until you terminate the service.
All natural gas and/or electric usage uploaded to the Energy Star website is prorated to calendar month.
Usage Prorated to Calendar Month
Avista bill dates rarely correspond to the beginning and end dates of each calendar month. However, Energy Star Portfolio Manager Software performs calculations based on energy usage data per calendar month. In order to accommodate this, Avista prorates energy usage data to coincide with the calendar month.
Maximizing your HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning)
- Check your HVAC manual for easy maintenance you can perform yourself. You could save as much as 5% on energy costs with regular check-ups.
- Use your HVAC economizers and take advantage of free cool outside air. During winter, make sure your economizer is working properly; an economizer that is stuck open can dramatically increase heating costs.
- Keep the shades closed in the summer to block the hot afternoon sunlight and you won't have to use as much air conditioning. During winter, open shades to let the warm sunlight from the south, then close the shades at night to keep the heat in.
- Keep cool in the summer by using fans to create your own wind chill. In areas with high ceilings, ceiling fans work particularly well. You can also use ceiling fans in the winter to circulate warm air from the ceiling back down to the floor.
- Keep all registers and vents clear of drapes, desks, plants, or boxes so the conditioned air can move freely.
- Set your thermostat at 76 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. When you leave for the day, set your thermostat to 85 degrees in the summer and 60 degrees in the winter.
Flip the switch and pull the plug
- Turn off unnecessary lights to save electricity and to cut down on the heat lights produce. Also, pull the plug on TVs and radios.
- Turn cooking equipment off or down when business is slower.
- Consolidate perishable items into fewer cooling units and then unplug your extra refrigerators or freezers.
- Turn off machines that you don't use very often. When you do use it you may have to wait an extra minute for it to warm up, but the savings will make it worthwhile.
- Turn off computers, printers, and fax machines every night before you leave.
Keep things clean
- Clean the dust off refrigerator coils by vacuuming the back of the unit — and don't forget to clean underneath it, too.
- Clean your air conditioner filters. Window units have filters that should be cleaned every month with soap and water then air-dried while in use. Use a fin comb to straighten aluminum fins on the outside AC condensers.
- Clean grease and food particles from your exhaust hoods regularly. You should also clean filters frequently because grease build-up can increase your ventilation energy costs and the potential for fires.
Maintaining your building
- Check your facility's caulking and weather-stripping as part of your regularly scheduled maintenance.
- Properly installed and maintained caulking and weather-stripping can actually save you a substantial amount on your heating and cooling bills.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. They last up to 10 times longer and can reduce lighting costs by up to 75 percent.
- T12 lights with magnetic ballasts should be retrofit with T8 lights with electronic ballasts. If your lamps are 1-1/2 inch in diameter, then you should change both your lamp and ballast.
- Consider removing excess fluorescent bulbs and installing reflectors.
- Remove unnecessary lamps (or delamp) and install dummy tubes. It is the simplest way to reduce light levels. These glass tubes are the same size and shape as fluorescent tubes. They maintain the ballast's connection but provide no light.
- Install motion detectors in frequently unoccupied areas like bathrooms, copy rooms, and warehouses.
- Use photocells or astronomical clocks to prevent your outdoor lighting from operating unnecessarily during daylight hours.
- Lower your energy costs by replacing the incandescent exit lights with LED lights.
Take advantage of the shade
- Install interior or exterior shading devices to block 65% - 95% of the sun's heat into your building. But make sure your shades are properly sized so they won't block the sun during the winter.
- Plant deciduous trees or shrubs on the south and west sides of your building. Your trees or shrubs will provide shade and block reflected heat from patios or driveways in the summer. In the winter, the trees will drop their leaves, allowing the warm sunlight to enter your facility. Plus, your customers will appreciate the improved appearance of your business.
Maintaining your building
- Make sure that you have sufficient insulation in the ceiling floor. Ceiling insulation can save you up to 30% on your cooling bill.
- Install low flow showerheads, faucets, or flow restrictors.
- Insulate your hot water pipes (especially if they are in unheated areas).
- Insulate steam pipes and condensate return pipes.
Your building's equipment
- Use a solar cover on your pool. The cover absorbs the sun's warmth and reduces the need for extra heating costs.
- Replace broilers with grooved or smooth griddles to significantly reduce your energy consumption.
- Replace your standard tilting braising pans with new energy-efficient models. In commercial kitchens, standard tilting braising pans generally operate at well under 50% efficiency (i.e., more than half of the heat is wasted); new energy-efficient designs may operate at 60% – 75% efficiency.
- Install auto door-closers and strip curtains on walk-in freezers or coolers.
- Move electric motors and equipment operated by motors to an unconditioned area, if possible. Electric motors and equipment operated by motors give off heat. In air-conditioned or refrigerated areas, that contributes to the cooling load.
- Keep your compressed air system in good working order. Delaying or ignoring maintenance can end up costing far more than the cost of labor or parts.
- Insulate water pipes so the hot water you've already paid for stays hot. And remember, not all water tanks need to be insulated.
Your office equipment
- Use laptops rather than desktop computers because laptops use 90% less energy than desktop models.
- Use ink-jet printers instead of laser printers. Laser printers use 90% more energy.
- Use email to send documents instead of using your fax machine.
Keep the air moving
- Install fans or other re-circulating systems to create air movement. Proper air circulation improves space comfort and system efficiency.
- Install reflectors to direct the cooler air upward if your air conditioning vents are in the floor. Cool air sinks toward the floor so experts say you should try to keep the coolest air between three and seven feet from the floor.
Air conditioner hints
- Change your replaceable furnace filters every spring and fall, and clean your washable filters monthly.
- Install a programmable thermostat. It will keep you from cooling and heating the building if you're not at work. If you currently have a programmable thermostat installed, check its programming.
- Install locking covers on your thermostats to prevent employees from tampering with the temperature settings.
- Use air conditioner economizers (common in packaged rooftop units) to bring the nighttime air from outside inside to help cool your building.
Designing the interior
- Choose new energy-conscious thermal curtains containing a layer of insulating material. Drapery contractors carry movable thermal insulation and you can pick the fabric that matches your business decor.
- Use warm colors in rooms with no direct sunlight to warm them up, and use cool colors in rooms with southern or western exposures to cool them down.
- Add beauty and insulation to your ceiling by using insulated decorative ceiling tiles. These tiles can be found in hardware or building supply stores.
- Increase the light reflected by using light colored paint.
- Maintain your storm or thermal doors and have them serviced regularly. They may seem unimportant or too small for consideration, but the infiltration loss from doors is actually a substantial portion of a building's total energy and dollar losses.
- Insulate your ceiling or roof adequately. In business facilities, the largest exposed area is usually the roof, which is why it's so important to insulate it to recommended levels.
- Perform routine maintenance of your rooftop HVAC (heating ventilating and air conditioning) units.
- Have an HVAC contractor check your roof vents and attic ventilators often. Vents and ventilators help by allowing hot air to escape and cooler outside air to enter, and with proper air flow your attic shouldn't be any warmer than the outside air.
- Use light-colored shingles if you are re-roofing. Lighter colors reflect more sunlight and reduce the heat gain of your building.
- Have your heating and cooling system professionally serviced regularly. Tune-ups can help you save on operating costs and extend the life of your system.
- Install an air conditioner economizer (applicable to packaged rooftop units) to reduce your need for electrical cooling.
- Consider installing a heat pump. Today's energy-efficient models are real energy savers and makes good sense for businesses.
- Look into adding an energy management system to control your HVAC and lighting.
- Consider replacing some or all your electric cooking equipment with comparably sized gas-fired equipment.
- Replace broilers with grooved or smooth griddles to significantly reduce your energy consumption.
- Opt for solid-state cooking controls that allow the operator to program the equipment with complete instructions, including pre-heat temperatures, cooking times and temperatures, and holding temperatures once the food is cooked. You can easily enter all the information using a keypad-type control panel.
- Replace any equipment that has reached the end of its service life with high-efficiency models.
- Improve your chiller efficiency. Chillers are used extensively for large facility space cooling and in industrial process liquid cooling. In many business and industrial facilities, space cooling and process refrigeration represent one of the largest energy expenditures — and increasing efficiency can significantly reduce your energy usage without affecting comfort or production.
- Install a refrigerant heat recovery system and use waste heat from walk-in refrigerators and freezers to preheat the facility hot water.
- Replace your older gas water heater with a high-efficiency water heater. It can save you a significant amount of money for years to come.
- If you have a kitchen exhaust hood, make sure you have a complimentary make-up air supply nearby. Control them both together.
- Retrofit with the most efficient lighting sources available today: HID (high intensity discharge) and LPS (low-pressure sodium) lamps.
- Install lighting controls. This is one of the most efficient means of decreasing facility operating expenses. When lights are left on unnecessarily or areas are lighted excessively, energy costs increase.
- Rewire restroom fans to operate with the lights, or install a timer switch.
- Paint walls with light colors to help keep interiors cooler. A white wall can reflect 80% of the light that hits it.
- Install energy efficient windows. The windows will not only help lower your energy bills for years to come, but they will also reduce the amount your carpets, drapes, and furniture fade. If you have too many windows or they are too large, replace them with insulated wall and smaller windows. You can lose 10 times the energy through a window that you do through an insulated wall. Use highly reflective materials when you re-roof so the building doesn't absorb as much of the sun's heat.
- Adjustable Speed Drives (ASD) - PDF
- Energy Auditing and Troubleshooting - PDF
- Boiler and Chiller Maintenance Maximum Efficiency - PDF
- Compressed Air Energy Management: What You Need to Know - PDF
- Achieving Energy Efficiency in Data Centers - PDF
- Energy Management Opportunities for Industrial Customers - PDF
- Developing an Energy Plan - PDF
- Energy Efficiency Investment Analysis - PDF
- Advances in Lamps and Ballasts - PDF
- Improve Power Factor at Your Facility - PDF