Test Your Business Energy-Efficiency Smarts!

Smart business means efficient business, and energy is one of the few areas where you can cut costs without sacrificing customer service or product quality. Test your energy-efficiency knowledge by taking this short quiz, and pick up some useful energy-efficiency tips that can improve your bottom line.

1. True or false? When leaving a room for a short period, it’s better to leave lights on than to turn them off.

False. Although some lamps, including incandescents and CFLs, draw slightly more power on start-up and wear out more quickly with frequent on-and-off switching, it’s still a good rule of thumb to turn the lights off whenever you leave a room. If lights are frequently left on at your facility when no one is in a room, consider installing occupancy sensors that automatically shut lights off when the room is empty. For LED lighting, there is little or no energy or lifespan penalty due to switching lamps on and off.

2. What pieces of office equipment are the biggest energy hogs?

Water coolers, coffeemakers, copy machines, and plotters. Water coolers and large commercial coffeemakers are among the largest individual plug loads in many offices, with most of the energy going toward keeping water and coffee hot or cold even when no one is consuming the beverages. Small businesses can save up to $100 per year by installing timers on these devices that turn them off at night, or by using smaller, household-model coffeemakers or Energy Star–certified water coolers when possible. Similarly, copy machines and plotters should be switched off at the end of each day, either manually or via a timer. And although they don’t use as much energy per device, computers on the whole consume more electricity than any other class of office equipment.

3. True or false? Computers and other office equipment (including printers, copiers, and fax machines) account for the majority of the electricity used in an office building.

False. Lighting accounts for the largest portion—more than 35 percent—of a commercial building’s electricity bill, making it one of the best targets for energy savings. The second-largest electricity end use in a typical office building is air conditioning.

4. At what temperatures should you keep your office or retail store?

During the heating season, set your programmable thermostat to maintain a temperature between 68° Fahrenheit (F) and 70°F during occupied hours and between 55°F and 60°F during unoccupied hours. In the cooling season, set your thermostat between 75°F and 78°F during occupied hours and between 82°F and 85°F during unoccupied hours. These temperature settings will keep your employees and customers comfortable while improving your bottom line.

5. True or false? Surge protectors don’t reduce energy use.

True. Surge protectors are an effective way to protect your electronic equipment against voltage spikes, but they do not reduce energy usage. However, turning them off or unplugging them when they’re not needed will eliminate vampire energy use—the consumption that occurs when devices are using energy even when they’re not being used. Alternatively, so-called smart power strips feature timers, power sensors, and/or occupancy sensors that can turn equipment off when it’s not in use.

6. True or false? Regular examinations of your building’s equipment as well as operations and maintenance procedures can save 5 to 20 percent annually in utility costs.

True. Conducting system and building tune-ups regularly, often called recommissioning, reduces the risk of early equipment failure and unscheduled downtime, and it ensures that your building is operating as efficiently as possible.

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