02 May Sealed Structures Save Energy & Money
As the weather turns warmer, many businesses are gearing up for additional work and the busy season for many industries. The attention shifts to managing operational costs while overhead costs, like utilities and office costs, become a smaller part of the balance sheet. There are still opportunities for significant overhead cost reductions through managing your commercial building envelope and cooling systems.
Cost to Cool Versus Heat
The big difference is comparing the cost to heat one additional degree during the winter versus the cost to cool one additional degree during the summer. Heating one additional degree will typically increase total energy spend by about 2%. Cooling one additional degree can cost between 10-20% of total cost, depending on the size of the building and other building factors. Finding ways to improve the commercial building envelope will help save part, if not all, of the 10-20% cost increase.
Several years ago, while performing an energy audit on a multi-use commercial space, the results demonstrated not only an opportunity to save money on energy, but a way to improve indoor air quality. The non-conditioned space of the commercial building in question was primarily a workshop with some storage. The small engine and vehicle emissions from the shop found every opening and crack in the common wall, making the entire office smell like exhaust.
Working with the building owner and with tests like the air barrier and leak detection tests, we found where enhancements were needed to improve overall building performance.
How to Improve Performance
Meeting with an energy inspector will show what is possible for your particular space. The inspector will consider your situation and goals, then advise you on solutions to improve performance and produce utility savings. Here are a few possible solutions to consider:
- Building Ventilation – For a warehouse space, the best solution to control temperature and indoor air quality is by either installing or balancing building ventilation systems. Running a building diagnostics test can show what ventilation is needed. This will also improve the comfort of employees in the warehouse space and any adjoining office.
- Wall Sealing – Whether an exterior wall or a wall dividing differently conditioned spaces, sealing gaps in the wall will reduce air infiltration and the total burden placed on the air conditioning system. Using leak detection and infrared scanning tools, the inspector can identify the areas that need improvement and provide a plan to seal the space for better comfort and cost savings.
- System Upgrades – Utility management tools can identify when and where energy usage is the highest for your business. Much like our homes, businesses and commercial buildings often heat and cool the entire space for more hours than are needed during the day. Upgrades to your commercial building’s system can allow for better control of different zones and automated schedules to shutdown parts of your office not in use during certain hours.
Every business is unique. Whether it is your business type, equipment usage, hours of operation or number of employees, these all affect how your building operates year-round. Working with a qualified inspector will show you where improvements are needed and the most cost-effective solutions to reduce your energy usage and increase overall comfort. Call to schedule your energy audit to begin saving before the weather turns hot.