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When winter weather arrives, many energy buyers find themselves using more energy to keep their businesses running. This increased energy use leads to higher bills. It’s never too early to start making changes at your facility to help protect your business from the cold weather.
Preparing now can potentially help keep your business from facing spikes in your energy bill later!
Here are five ways to keep your energy costs in check this winter:
Use programmable thermostats that regulate your heating system. These thermostats take occupancy and peak times into account to help regulate energy use. A programmable thermostat can reduce heating costs by about 30 percent, according to the EPA. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower during low-occupancy hours, you can help save your business from using otherwise wasted energy. In similar fashion, by installing smart lighting systems, energy usage for lighting can be adjusted based on occupancy, time of day and desired lighting levels.
- Keep Warm Air in and Cold Air Out
Energy savings can also be realized by making sure your facility is not letting heat escape or inviting the cold in. A typical building with a forced-air heating and cooling system can lose about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. By checking for cracks around windows and doors, you can use weather stripping to plug them and avoid any unnecessary energy loss.
- Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
Lighting accounts for nearly 25 percent of all commercial energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By upgrading to EnergyStar-rated light bulbs, you could help reduce your electric costs. These bulbs last 10-25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use about 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, according to EnergyStar. In a large facility, these savings really add up over time. Programs like Efficiency Made Easy can help businesses like yours make these energy efficient changes with no upfront capital required.
- Use Load Response to Voluntarily Reduce Energy Costs During Peak Times
Load response programs allow businesses to use less energy at predicted peak times. These programs can cut down on Peak Load Contribution, which represents about 20-30 percent of the total bill for the following year.
Constellation offers several load response options for businesses, including peak response, price response and rate response. In some cases, businesses are compensated for using less power in addition to saving money by reducing usage. Depending on your unique business needs, this could be a great tactic for cutting down on energy use year round.
- Use a Customized Energy Management Strategy
You may already have a customized energy management strategy, but how well you manage the price you’re paying for energy can be a big factor in your overall energy costs.
Consider your current plan for electricity and natural gas. Do your plans allow you to lock in a predictable rate for the entire year or can you take advantage of shifts in the market?
A fixed price allows you to pay a set amount to per kWh during the term of your contract. This protects you from the volatility that can occur in the market during extreme weather patterns. This could be a great strategy depending on your business’ operational and budgetary needs because you always know exactly what you’ll pay.
While fixed price allows you to know exactly what you’ll pay, it takes away the ability to take advantage of market lows. An index pricing strategy, allows your business to pay varying market rates that fluctuate by the hour. Your business can use this to take advantage of lower costs, but will also see higher costs when the market shifts. Depending on your business’ risk tolerance, you may be able to utilize this strategy to benefit from the market’s fluctuation.
A blended strategy can help offer the benefits of both budget stability and purchasing flexibility. Blended strategies lock-in a portion of your usage at a fixed price and allowing you to purchase the remainder of your energy based on current market prices. This minimizes the impact of volatile prices on the competitive electricity market but still allows you to take advantage of fluctuations that can lower your cost.
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