Invest in Efficiency

When considering taking steps to become more energy efficient, think in terms of investment. You are spending this amount of money and effort in order to reduce cost and energy consumption in the long run. Energy efficiency investments can also increase the value of buildings and homes.

Looking for a quick return on your investment? Here’s a laundry list of ideas to get started with saving energy that often have a rapid payback. 

Operations and maintenance

  • Retro or re-commission the building to make sure it’s running the way it was intended.
  • Consider energy audits to identify areas where building systems have become inefficient over time and bring them back to peak performance.
  • Repair leaking faucets and equipment. A dripping hot water faucet can leak hundreds of gallons per year.


  • Replace old fluorescent and incandescent lighting with T-8 (or even T-5) fixtures, ENERGY STAR certified LEDs, and other energy-efficient lighting systems that improve light quality and reduce heat gain. LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent lighting and last 35 to 50 times longer.
  • Install LED exit signs. These signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating the need to replace lamps.
  • Swap out incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFLs or LEDs in your desk, task, and floor lamps.
  • Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights when no one is present and back on when people return. Storage rooms, back-of-house spaces, meeting rooms, and other low-traffic areas are often good places to start.
  • Examine the opportunity to switch from high-pressure sodium lamps to metal halide lamps in parking lots and consider upgrading to LED lighting for outdoor signage.

Office equipment

  • Purchase energy-efficient products like ENERGY STAR certified office equipment, electronics, and commercial cooking equipment.

Food service equipment

  • Purchase ENERGY STAR certified commercial food service equipment. For example, certified refrigerators and freezers can save over 45 percent of the energy used by conventional models, which equals as much as $140 annually for refrigerators and $100 for freezers.
  • For existing refrigerators, clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets if a dollar bill easily slips out when closed between the door’s seals.
  • Have large and walk-in refrigeration systems serviced at least annually. This includes cleaning, refrigerant top off, lubrication of moving parts, and adjustment of belts. This will help ensure efficient operation and longer equipment life.
  • Consider retrofitting existing refrigerators and display cases with anti-sweat door heater controls, and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls.

Heating and cooling

  • Tune up your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Your chances of an emergency HVAC breakdown also decrease with regular maintenance. 
  • Plug air leaks with weather stripping and caulking.
  • Install variable frequency drives (VFDs) and energy-efficient motors.
  • Balance air and water systems.
  • Install window films and add insulation or reflective roof coating to reduce energy consumption.
  • Upgrade and maintain heating and cooling equipment. Replace chlorofluorocarbon chillers, retrofit or install energy-efficient models to meet a building’s reduced cooling loads, and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.

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