Pick the “Spark Certified” low-hanging fruit first
What’s low-hanging fruit? These are energy efficiency projects that are easy and low cost, yet have a high rate of return. Pick the low-hanging fruit first: “It’s like bending down to pick up a $20 bill.” Once you have that money in your pocket, then go after higher hanging fruit. Spark has “certified” the following key upgrades that don’t break the budget, improve your workplace, and yield great returns.
Smart thermostats are a great way to save energy, but only if you actually program them to turn down your heat or AC when you don’t need it. Wi-fi thermostats make it easier to see what’s going on with your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and to control them for easy savings.
An old-fashioned incandescent light bulb generates more heat than light. The new light-emitting diodes are exactly the opposite: they generate more light than heat. Upgrading to LEDs can reduce your operating expenses for lighting by 80%, and generate secondary savings in reduced AC and refrigeration loads. For example, an incandescent lamp that requires 60 watts of power can be replaced by an LED lamp that requires less than 12 watts. Best of all, unlike the older CFL technology, today’s LED technology delivers instant, high-quality light in a rugged, long-lasting light bulb free of hazardous materials. The new LEDs are widely available and much more affordable now with point-of-sale rebates offered by Efficiency Maine. If you have any incandescent or CFL bulbs, replace them with LEDs for long-term energy savings.
Putting outdoor lights on a timer is a great way to ensure that you aren’t wasting energy on lighting when sunlight is available to do the job for you. A daylight-adjusted timer automatically adjusts the time to turn on and off lights based on the changing time of dawn and dusk.
One of the easiest ways to save energy is to turn off lights when they aren’t doing you any good. If you have storage spaces where the lights are turned on and left on, installing motion sensors to turn those lights on and off for you automatically can be a fantastic investment.
There are many types of motion sensors: ceiling mount, fixture mount and wall mount, those that sense motion and those that sense sound. There are motion sensors that don’t come on when there is sufficient day-light, and other that will dim lights to account for daylight in the space. Each has its own beam spread; care must be taken to put the sensor where it will pick up motion you want it to pick up, and not motion you don’t! Count on Spark to specify and install the right motion sensor for your application, and install it to work for you.
If you’ve got three 8’ old-fashioned fluorescent fixtures in a storage space where the lights are left on all day, but people are only there for 4 hours a day, you’ll save over $100 a year.
Typically a ceiling mounted motion sensor costs about $150 to install and will qualify for $55 in rebates from Efficiency Maine, for a net cost of less than $100.
The final step when installing a heating, ventilation or air conditioning system is to “commission” it. This means setting all of the parameters for the control systems (when it comes on, how hot to make the water, rates of pumps and fans, etc.) and making sure everything is working as intended. Over time, things break, building use changes, parts get replaced, and better practices and technologies are developed. A system “recommissioning” is an energy tune up for your building. A good recommissioning will make all of your building’s energy systems work better than new, not only saving you time, energy and money, but also making your building a more comfortable place to be.