What’s the easiest way to save energy, many property managers ask? Well, truthfully, the easiest way to save is not to use energy in the first place. That being rather impractical, there are many things that can be done to reduce how much energy you use. Here’s a few tips below on reducing how much power your property uses… and how to assess the return.
On the property itself, one of the most obvious places to start is the lighting. Parking lot lights can be replaced with newer more efficient lighting. If you can find the lumens or light output of your current lights, then you can simply do a comparison of various lights and their output; compare them with your current ones. Also, look for the estimated amount of electricity used from the new lights so you will get an idea of how much can be saved. If this is shown as kilowatt hours (kWh), then take your latest electric bill for the parking lot lights and do a quick calculation to give you an idea. Do the same calculation for all of your lights, whether you have 3 or 300, and you will have a firm grasp of potential savings. Then project that savings out over the course of a year, two years or however long and you will soon get an idea of return on investment as well as a pretty good idea of a payoff date.
For outdoor lights mounted on buildings that illuminate walkways, you can follow the same procedure. With all lights, check for the amount of area they brighten. You may be able to find very bright and energy efficient ones that will allow you to eliminate some of the existing lights and save more energy that way as well.
There can be other outdoor sources of electrical usage that you would be able to reduce. A residential complex might have a pool, so you can look into replacing the pump and heater (is it has one) with something more efficient. If there is a lake with a fountain, then what about replacing the pump for the fountain with one that uses less electricity?
Where does energy escape? One thing to do with buildings, be they offices, warehouses or apartments, is to use thermal imaging to detect areas of leaks where the interior heat or cooling, is escaping through cracks, holes or bad or worn insulation. Now be warned, this imaging, though it can point out many areas to seal and help save energy, can be expensive. If, like so many of us these days, you are on a budget where you have to make every penny count, then you may want to keep this idea in reserve to use at a time when you have a healthier budget. Another option is to ask your power company for an energy audit. They often come up with great ways to reduce and save.
In the office itself there are many areas to tackle to save energy. Replacing the light fixtures and the even the bulbs with ones that use less electricity is one step. Another is to replace office equipment, such as copiers, printers and computers with ones that are Energy Star rated. If your office has a kitchen or lunch area for your employees, then what about replacing the refrigerator, the microwave or the toaster oven if you have one. Is there a water heater? That can be replaced with a tankless one or keep the one you have and wrap it with a thermal blanket. That will help it maintain its heat longer. You could also attach a timer to the water heater so that it will shut off when the office is closed.
Probably the biggest user of electricity in the office is the air conditioning and heating unit. Have a technician clean it and check to see if it is running at peak efficiency. Again, replacing it with a more energy efficient one may be beyond the scope of your budget, but it is something to keep in mind.
Aside from being kind to the planet we all call home and helping keep it clean for others, there are a few other reasons you can use to buttress your desire for a greener property. First off, there is the increased value of the property. Then there are the reduced utility bills that will save money. Also, it will probably make your property more appealing for current and prospective tenants. All in all, you have much to gain and very little (if anything) to lose by making you property more energy efficient.
Another option that people often overlook is shopping around for a new energy provider. All over the country states are embracing energy deregulation, allowing consumers to take control of their energy plans. In many cases, residents can save a significant amount of money by simply choosing the energy plan that’s right for them.
If you’re not sure where to begin, there are several websites out there like www.compareelectricratesintexas.com that can help point you in the right direction.
Michelle Jensen is the property manager at Versatile Warehousing in Davie, Florida.