According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings are responsible for a whopping 20 percent of all of the energy consumed in this country, and costs paid by business owners to heat and cool their commercial property reached an estimated $180 billion dollars in 2013. Fortunately, there are ways that owners of commercial establishments can cut utility costs significantly. Following are five strategies for your consideration for your commercial heating.
Dark Roofing Materials
If you live in an area that experiences significant seasonal cold, you can cut your heating costs substantially by using roofing material in a dark color. The dark color will absorb heat from the sun, meaning that less output will be required of your interior heating system. However, if summer heat is an environmental factor in your area, you may be better off skipping the dark roofing materials in favor of reflective roofing that will help keep you cool in summer.
Selecting the right roofing material is a delicate balancing act in places that experience seasonal variations, so be sure to have an in-depth consultation with your local roofing contractor before making a commitment to a specific type of roof.
Even if you and your roofing contractor come to a mutual agreement that dark roofing materials aren't advisable due to local climate conditions, you can certainly benefit from the installation of rooftop solar panels. Solar energy can also be used to fuel your hot water system and to meet some of your basic electrical needs, including air conditioning in the summer months.
However, it's important that your structure has adequate support for solar panels because they can be quite heavy, and there must be an adequate windbreak if you live in an area that experiences high winds. You may also be eligible for a business energy investment tax credit if you decide to use solar energy in your commercial building, and this can help cut the costs of installation significantly.
Old-fashioned weatherization strategies are still among the most effective ways to keep heating costs down in areas that experience seasonal cold temperatures. Good insulation, particularly on ceilings, will play a substantial role in reducing heat loss. Energy-efficient windows and doors that are virtually draft-free are also highly instrumental in keeping warm air inside and stopping cold outdoor air from accessing the interior environment.
Weatherstripping and caulking can also help guard against heat loss. Interior shutters that are kept tightly closed during periods when the building is unoccupied will not only help conserve heat, they'll do double duty as an excellent security measure against potential vandals and intruders.
Energy Star Products
Energy Star products have been tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet specific energy-efficient guidelines. Establishing a business policy of only purchasing and installing Energy Star products will help save you money as well as help reduce the carbon footprint that your business places on the planet. Keep in mind that Energy Star furnaces have different requirements in different parts of the country because of varying climate conditions.
Your local commercial heating contractor will be able to help you decide which type of furnace best meets the specific needs of your building.
The days of manually-controlled thermostats are over for those who care about keeping heating costs down. Installing a programmable thermostat will ensure that the heat won't be left on overnight or for the entire weekend simply because the last person out the door for the day forgot to turn it down a notch. They can also be used in tandem with air conditioning systems during the warm season months for further energy savings.
The U.S. Department of Energy provides an online calculator for those wishing to estimate federal tax deductions for making energy efficient improvements to their commercial properties.