The Hidden Benefits of Energy Conservation

While energy-efficiency improvements are a great way to lower utility bills, upgrades with a long payback period can be tough to swallow if that’s the only basis for doing a project.  Whether you are looking for improvements in your home or business, it is often necessary to look beyond energy savings.  The truth is that energy projects can impact your bottom line in a number of ways; longer equipment life, reduced maintenance costs, improved productivity, and enhanced image.

Looking at all the benefits often builds a strong case for long-term investments in energy efficiency.  While I am using examples for commercial businesses, many of the same benefits can be applied to energy efficiency upgrades in your home.

Extended equipment life. All equipment has a rated operating life. This rating is based on an average number of operating hours per year. In addition to saving on energy costs, turning things down, and turning things off will extend the useful life of the equipment. Other conservation measures will have a positive impact on equipment life as well. Lowering the pressure on air compressors, for example, will save energy by reducing the amount of air lost to leakage. It will also extend the life of the compressor by reducing wear and tear on the motor.

Reduced maintenance costs. Energy-efficiency retrofits can help to reduce maintenance costs. For example, the latest T8 light fixtures have a lifetime rating of 30,000 hours compared to 20,000 hours or less for T12 fixtures. In a large facility, this can significantly reduce the time that maintenance staff spends changing out lamps or replacing fixtures. In a specific instance, the Rosen Hotel and Resort in Orlando, Florida, was plagued with maintenance calls for noisy and malfunctioning ventilation fans. They replaced the older fans with new, ENERGY STAR-certified models. While the hotel cut energy costs by $26,000 per year, the quiet and reliable fans also saved thousands of dollars in reduced maintenance time and repair.

Improved productivity. Energy-saving upgrades, such as day-lighting and advanced air-filtration systems, also help to improve overall work atmosphere and indoor air quality. These have been shown to increase worker productivity and reduce absenteeism. In a 2009 survey of employers who moved operations into green buildings, more than half reported an increase in productivity while 45% saw a decrease in absenteeism. Of those reporting a change, there was an average of three fewer sick days per employee and a 5% increase in overall productivity. (Miller, 2009)

Reduced risk from energy price fluctuations. Energy is a commodity. Like any commodity, energy prices can vary. Energy prices often change based on supply issues or seasonal demand. When energy becomes a smaller part of the operational budget, the organization is less vulnerable to price spikes in key energy resources, such as electricity and natural gas.

Enhanced public image and value. Green is in. Consumers want to buy environmentally friendly products and talented employees want to work for green organizations. The consuming public, as well as environmental regulators, are interested in conserving resources and reducing harmful emissions. By using energy efficiently and reducing your carbon footprint, your organization will stand out. A 2011 Harris poll found that nearly 70% of those surveyed prefer to work in a facility that has been certified by a third-party organization, such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A 2011 building market report found that green-labeled buildings command a rent premium of between 3% and 6%; in addition, the green properties that sold during the same period sold for a premium of 11% to 19%. (Watson 2011)

Energy efficiency improvements provide a lot of benefits – beyond just energy savings – for both businesses and homeowners.  To learn more visit www.PowellEnergyandSolar.com or give us a call at  (856) 380-0709.

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