Energy Tips: Commercial And Industrial

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ( offers tips to help commercial and industrial facilities conserve energy.


No Cost Tips

1. Turn Up Your Thermostat

Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when the work place is occupied, and 85 degrees or off after business hours. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. You can save up to 3 percent for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees.

2. Reduce Your Lighting

A general rule is that a light should be off when no one is present. Turn off lights in unoccupied areas, remove excess lighting and turn off signage and other lights not necessary for security and safety.

3. Be Energy Smart With Office Equipment

Turn off office equipment or set it to "power down" when not in use. Setting computers, monitors and copiers to use sleep-mode when not in use helps cut energy costs by approximately 40 percent. Remember to turn equipment off at the end of the workday.

4. Use Shades and Blinds

On hot days, draw the curtains and/or shades to keep the sun out. Remember to close doors to the outside to keep in cooler air.

Low Cost Tips

1. Install Efficient Lighting

There are a number of low-cost solutions a business can invest in to make its lighting much more efficient and save money in the long run. For example: replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, which can last up to nine times longer; upgrade fluorescent lighting fixtures to high efficiency equipment; replace incandescent lights in exit signs with LED fixtures. This can reduce costs of these signs by up to 95 percent.

2. Install Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats or time clocks can automatically control temperature settings and save energy.

3. Use "Smart" Power Strips

These sense the presence or absence of office workers and turn the attached equipment on or off accordingly.

4. Choose the Smallest Monitor

The bigger the monitor, the more energy it uses. Switching from a 17-inch monitor to a 14-inch monitor saves energy by as much as 35 percent.

5. Maintain Your HVAC System

Perform regular maintenance to keep your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems running more efficiently.

Investment Tips

1. Retrofit Lighting

Convert T12 lights and magnetic ballast to T8 lights and electronic ballast. Install occupancy sensors, which can reduce lighting costs by up to 40 percent. Convert hallway and non-public security lighting to energy saving 25-Watt T12 bulbs. Convert TV surveillance cameras to newer equipment, which may not require floodlighting.

2. Weatherize Buildings

Install awnings, solar shade screens or sun-control film for windows, and apply a heat-blocking coating to your roof. Some incentives and rebates may be available to help defray initial costs.

3. Install an Energy Management System

An EMS will control heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment and lighting systems automatically to maximize efficiency and savings.

4. Buy ENERGY STAR® Products

Energy Star® certified equipment and products use less energy than other products, save money on utility bills, and help protect the environment. Establish a business policy of only buying Energy Star® certified equipment such as computers, monitors and printers.

Building and Design Tips

1. General Cooling Measures

Think carefully about using "green" design features. Use evaporative cooling wherever possible. Attempt to use natural ventilation and light surfaces. Encourage day lighting of interior spaces in the design. Surround all buildings and cover parking lots with trees to reduce local environmental temperatures. Specify light colored aggregates for local access road and sidewalk pavements.

2. Landscaping And Use Of Shade

Combine architectural features and shading so that a minimum of the building envelope is exposed to the sun. Design landscaping around the building and over parking areas so that no parking area is exposed to the sun. This will not only reduce the heat build-up in parked vehicles, but will reduce the temperature of air blowing against the building by 6 to 8 degrees.

3. Combined Heat And Power Systems

Often there is a balance between the heat requirements of an institution and its electrical needs. This energy match means that the waste heat from a small electrical generator can be used to generate electricity.

4. Solar Power on Rooftops

Consider installing solar electric collectors and/or solar hot water collectors on the roof. Ensure that the building design includes adequate support for the dead weight load and the wind stress, and all conduits for pipes or wires.

5. Water, Gas And Ventilation

Design a gray water collection system for irrigating landscaping. If natural gas is unavailable, consider ground source heat pumps. Design public space ventilation to respond to occupancy needs with such features as carbon dioxide detectors. Avoid air curtains that allow air leakage from conditioned spaces. Pressurize and test all ducts for leakage before dropped ceilings are installed.

6. Engineering Requirements

Be sure that Performance Assurance or building commissioning is included in the engineering services provided by the engineer.


1. Motor Driven Equipment

Motors to power pumps, fans, blowers, air compressors and dozens of other mechanical devices are used in nearly all types of industrial production. It is estimated that motor-driven equipment accounts for 64 percent of the electricity consumed by U.S. industries. Accordingly, there is a great opportunity to save energy by using energy efficient motors. Energy-efficient motors can cut energy use by at least 12 percent. The most energy-efficient motors are equipped with controllers and variable speed drives to help the motors match output with the energy necessary for the task. Some motors have motor coils made of super-conducting materials, which greatly reduce energy loss.

2. Make Use Of Waste Heat

Onsite production of electricity is a way to save on purchased electricity. Combined heat and power (CHP) systems (also called cogeneration systems) achieve higher thermal efficiencies than stand-alone power plants. There are a variety of power production technologies that can be used for CHP systems including gas turbines, combined-cycle systems, micro-turbines, fuel cells, and reciprocating engines. A CHP system can be considered for industrial facilities that produce low grade waste heat (ranging in temperature for 100o to 300o Celsius) and that has an electrical load that roughly tracks heat production.

3. Efficient Steam Equipment

More than 45 percent of all the fuel burned by U.S. manufacturers is consumed to raise steam. A typical industrial facility can realize steam savings of 20 percent by improving its steam system. Simple approaches to improving energy performance include insulating steam and condensate return lines, stopping any steam leaks, and maintaining steam traps. Condensate return to the boiler is essential for energy efficiency.

4. Compressed Air Equipment Savings

Many industrial facilities use compressed air systems as power sources for tools and equipment used for pressurizing, atomizing, agitating, and mixing applications. Optimizing a compressed air system can provide energy-efficiency improvements of 20-50 percent. Simple measures for saving energy include detecting and fixing air leaks. Installing variable-speed drives on compressors can also save energy.

5. Using Sensors And Controls For System Efficiency

All industrial systems rely on sensors and controls. Advanced sensors and control systems are available that allow processes to operate at their optimal conditions, thereby saving energy. Such sensors and controls are continuously dropping in cost.

6. Efficient Combustion

Combustion processes provide more than 85 percent of the energy used by U.S. industries. Boilers used for combustion often operate at air levels that are higher than the optimum. Periodically monitoring flue gas composition and tuning the boilers to maintain excess air at optimum levels can save energy.

7. Smart Water Use

Pumping and treating the water that an industrial process needs will also use energy, as will the cleanup treatment of the water. Reducing water use will therefore also reduce energy use.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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