Air conditioning is expensive, but essential for most of the world except perhaps the arctic circle. It improves employee productivity and attracts customers on the hottest of days. Unfortunately, it also makes an electric meter look more like a helicopter, buzzing along as we suck down ever more watts in search of comfort.
The Little Things
- Use light-colored windows blinds and curtains.
Every place that light gets into your building is some place it’s going to raise the temperature. Light ultimately creates heat, the sun is giant, nuclear, laser ball. If we can make sure its light falls on reflective things, like lighter colors, curtains and blinds, we can reduce the amount of heat generated inside the room. It would be impractical to close off grand entry ways with curtains, but everywhere else is probably fair game. Even some window blinds in the office can reduce the heat coming in by half, while still keeping the room fairly bright for your staff.
- Dial back the temperature
The greater the temperature difference, the harder the air conditioner has to work to maintain that difference. Remember that you need to only create apparent comfort. If it’s 100 degrees out, your employees and customers will probably be grateful for anything less than 85 degrees. You don’t need to make the office 60 degrees.
- Close the doors
Ensure you’re not venting cool air wastefully. Keep the doors closed or install a closing mechanism to ensure they stay closed. For store fronts, consider a revolving door or an enclosed entryway to prevent unnecessary air loss.
- Change your filters
We’ve covered this ad nauseum. Change your dirty old filters.
The Bigger Items
If you’re planning any renovations or have some money to spend on improving your facility, then you can spend now to save later.
- Use a smart thermostat
This applies to all tiers of business. A smart thermostat can intelligently regulate the office temperature. If no one is present, it can shut off cooling altogether. In bigger installations, advanced thermostats can regulate multiple cooling zones and avoid waste, like air conditioning a grocery store’s frozen foods section.
- Use Fans
A fan cannot cool the air like an air conditioner, but it creates a cooling-effect on people. Where it’s possible, install ceiling fans or portable fans to provide a good breeze and get the air moving.
- Upgrade your insulation
Older, single-pane windows are energy leeches. They heat up and cool down, radiating heat into the environment. Consider replacing these with double-pane, insulated windows.
- Upgrade your air conditioner
Technology has improved a lot in the past few decades. If Bush or Clinton was in office when your AC was new, it’s worth considering an upgrade. Modern standards require higher efficiency from air conditioners. Newer designs are more refined and perform better.
What Works for You
These are all merely suggestions. Your individual circumstances may dictate a different way to improve your cooling costs. If you think a major change can cut costs, talk to your heating and cooling contractor and let them inspect your facility to see what can be improved.