Your nonprofit doesn’t necessarily have to make major renovations to start saving energy and money. Here are ten things your organization can do today to become more environmentally sustainable and reduce your utility costs.
Turn off computers and other devices
Turn off your monitor when you won’t be using it for 20 minutes, and turn off your computer when you won’t be using it for 2 hours. Also, make sure your monitors, printers, and other accessories are on a power strip or surge protector. This lets you turn off the switch at the power strip so your equipment doesn’t draw power even when it’s off. Many computers also come with a sleep mode or power management feature, which can save electricity.
Find out about energy efficiency incentives and policies
Many states offer incentives and rebates for performance and use of energy-efficient equipment. Find out what your state offers by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency – a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency.
Consult your utility company about opportunities for savings
Some utility programs run their own rebate programs and others hire a third-party contractor to implement their rebate program. Find out who to talk to at your utility company and develop a primary point of contact for all your rebate questions.
Add roof and wall insulation
Insulation can reduce the amount of energy you consume year-round, and in turn reduce your energy bills. In cold weather, insulation keeps the warm air in, and in warm weather, it keeps the air-conditioned air in and the warm air out. Look for R-values – the greater the R-value, the greater the insulating capacity of the material.
Install programmable thermostats
Digital programmable thermostats let you adjust the heating and cooling lower or higher for an eight-hour period. In the winter, set the temperature 10° to 15° lower for when you’re asleep or away, and in summer, set the air conditioner for 10° to 15° higher. This can save you 5% to 15% annually on your energy bills — as much as 1% for each degree you set higher or lower during an eight-hour period.
Replace plumbing with low-flow faucets and ultra-efficient toilets
Today’s water fixtures are designed to use less water, while meeting efficiency and performance standards. Inspect the flow rates of faucets and aerators and make sure they’re designed to reduce water usage. Toilets should be low-flow, as well. Federal law mandates that all toilets manufactured in the U.S. must use an average of 1.6 gallons per flush or less.
Upgrade HVAC systems
Replacing less efficient HVAC equipment can cut energy costs by as much as 20%. This also promotes a healthier environment as it improves filtration and decreases the amount of particulates in the air. In addition, utility companies often offer rebates or savings for replacing HVAC units as heating and cooling are both big energy users.
Switch your lights
Lighting can account for 20% to 50% of electricity consumption, which means you can realize tremendous cost savings by making energy-efficient improvements. Explore the use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), improved halogen systems, high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting systems, and lighting controls. Also, updating incandescent exit signs can increase their energy efficiency by three to eight times.
Rethink how you heat water
Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F. You can also insulate your hot-water storage tank and the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater. For long-term savings, on-demand natural gas or tankless water heaters can heat water directly without using a storage tank, which can save up to 30% compared with a standard natural gas storage tank water heater.
Buy clean electricity
Nowadays, there are ways to opt for renewable electricity directly from power suppliers. This “green power” or “clean power” can be purchased through Green Pricing, competitive electricity markets, and Green Certificates. Many of these options let you choose not only how your electricity is generated but who generates it, so you can make green decisions right at the source.