On average, 30 cents of every dollar that organizations spend on energy use in commercial buildings is wasted through inefficiencies. Source: EPA  

Organizations looking for the most bang for their buck should consider these actions to achieve quick energy reductions:

1. Upgrade lighting: switch to LED (preferably), Compact Fluorescent (CFL) or T8 fluorescent lightbulbs. LEDs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, contain no mercury and last between 25,000 – 50,000 hours compared to just 1000 to 2000 hours for incandescents. Energy Trust of Oregon offers cash incentives for ENERGY STAR® certified LED replacement bulbs. Despite the higher upfront costs, this is the quickest way to see measurable reductions in energy, and the bulbs pay for themselves in a short amount of time.

2. Use thermostats wisely and/or use programmable thermostats – almost 50% of energy costs go for heating and cooling. Adjust heat setting to 68 degrees maximum in winter and set AC settings to 78 degrees minimum in summer. Adjust when office space is not being used, and at night and on weekends.

3. Maximize computer efficiency: use sleep mode and power management options; remove screensavers; turn computers, monitors, and peripherals off at night if possible. See ENERGY STAR’s Ways to Reduce IT Energy Costs for details.

4. Use power strips to turn stuff off when not in use and at night. “Phantom load” or standby power is the electricity consumed by an electronic device while it is turned off or in standby mode, and can represent 10% of monthly energy costs. Check out “smart” power strips to manage office equipment automatically.

5. Turn off lights when not in use, at night and on weekends. Use task lighting at desks. Install motion sensors and lighting controls in all common areas with intermittent traffic flow such as bathrooms, conference rooms and break rooms.

6. Maintain HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment to not only save energy and money, but also extend the life of your equipment. Tune up equipment annually and change air filters regularly (every 1-3 months). Leaky ducts should be sealed and bare pipes and ducts running through unconditioned space should be insulated.

7. Get an energy assessment of your building and act on it.

8. Improve building envelope first with air sealing, quality insulation and energy-efficient windows.

9. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR equipment and appliances which are at least 35% more efficient. This includes computers, printers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, water coolers, and vending machines.

10. Change behavior so your business makes more efficient use of energy. Develop an Energy Savings Plan based on reduction goals and implement policies for employees. And because you can’t manage what you don’t measure, benchmark your energy use through EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool.