You can (and should!) take charge of your energy use by addressing inefficiencies in each of these areas. For the purpose of this site, we’re focusing primarily on the Building Envelope and Systems.
…don’t fix it, right?
Not necessarily. Sometimes it actually makes more sense to upgrade or replace items that are still in good working order.
This may seem counter-intuitive and downright wasteful! But in evaluating whether and when to replace older building systems – from boilers to signage – it’s critical to consider the cost of an item’s operation over the course of its lifetime (in terms of energy consumption and maintenance).
In other words: Even if your decades old refrigerator still does its job, it probably uses a lot of power. A new model might (literally) use 1/3 as much energy. This means that replacing your old appliance with a new, energy efficient one will significantly reduce your operating expenses, and will – from an environmental perspective – better conserve natural resources.
Finally, you might also upgrade your equipment simply because the current, high efficiency products are just that much better – in terms of convenience and appearance.
When it comes to energy efficient products, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Comparing the energy use of a conventional light bulb with an LED over time makes the case for replacing energy inefficient items now, rather than later.
Let’s compare these common bulbs:
|60 W Incandescent||9.5 W LED|
|Cost to operate for 25,000 hours ($.17/kW)||$255||$40.38|
|Total cost to buy and operate for 25,000 hours||$256.50||$45.38|
|Lifespan (hours)||1,000 (assuming 8 hrs of use/day, 1 bulb will last = 125 days of use with an 8 hr day)||25,000 (= 8.6 years of use at 8 hours/day)|
|Assuming 8 hours of use/day, how long will the bulb last?||125 days||8.6 years|
|How many times will you change this bulb in an 8 year period?||23 times||0 times|
|CO2 emissions from 25,000 hours of use||1.1 metric tons
(equal to 1,100 pounds of coal being burned)
|.17 metric tons
(equal to 178 pounds of coal being burned)
The energy savings of other efficiency upgrades – like those affected by weather – are harder to predict. But with numbers like these, “You’d have to be brain dead” not to upgrade your lighting, right?
Recycling and properly disposing of old, inefficient products and appliances isn’t just environmentally-responsible, it’s the law.
Find your local options
Especially for Do-It-Yourself-ers and non-experts, choosing ENERGY STAR-certified products is the simplest way to make sure you’re putting the most efficient systems in place.
You’ll find the aqua ENERGY STAR label on everything from copy machines and refrigerators to boilers and roofing materials. ENERGY STAR-certified products deliver energy savings without compromising functionality. (Note that this is different from the yellow EnergyGuide label. The ENERGY STAR label certifies high efficiency performance, while the EnergyGuide label simply tells you how much energy the product uses.)
ENERGY STAR is also full of resources for small businesses, including information about products, tax credits, energy tracking and more.
It’s not just appliances that can be ENERGY STAR-certified – high performing commercial and industrial buildings can, too!
Measuring your building’s performance not only helps you track and quantify your energy savings, it can also mean a feather in your business’s cap. Displaying your ENERGY STAR building decal or plaque is a great way to let your customers and staff know that your business is doing its part to be a good steward of the environment.
In accordance with Michigan’s energy laws, your utility is required to provide rebates on some energy efficient products. These incentives vary from year to year and potentially from utility to utility.
To access rebate information, visit the Efficiency United website. In the “Commercial & Industrial” section of the home page, select your utility from the pull-down menu. Then choose “Commercial & Industrial Programs.”