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No-cost and low-cost energy efficient cooling tips for the workplace

Man with fan in summer heat

Is your workplace too hot? Don't sweat it. Whether you're running a store, a restaurant or an office space, these low-cost and no-cost cooling tips will help keep you cool all summer long.

No-cost cooling tips

Making simple changes to workplace habits and air conditioning systems help cool down the workplace and increase employee comfort. These four tips are easy to implement and can start saving you money on your electricity bill right away.

  • Turn it off: Electronics, such as computers, stereos, and desk lamps, give off heat when they're on. Turn them off when the business is closed, and when they won't be in use for extended periods during the workday. Changing employees' workplace habits isn't always easy but it can pay off in energy savings year round.
  • Stop short-cycling: "Short cycling" is a too-rapid shifting between heating and cooling modes on your HVAC system. Keep your heating and cooling points at least three degrees Celsius different from each other. Proper adjustment of set points saves energy year round, and can save up to 10 per cent on your energy bill.
  • Focus your cooling where it counts: Use mechanical cooling (fans, HVAC) only in rooms that are continuously occupied.  In many cases, cooling is not as critical in storage rooms or in common areas such as washrooms, hallways, and stairwells where employees and customers don't spend a lot of time.
  • Adjust the dress code: Mandating employees to wear unseasonable clothing can escalate energy costs if you have to use mechanical cooling to maintain comfort. Before you turn the cooling dial, consider adjusting the dress code and implementing business casual attire for the summer.

Low-cost cooling tips

Small investments — with quick payback times — help your business stay even cooler and save energy in the process. And some of the actions you take to efficiently keep cool in hot weather will help heat your business more efficiently through the winter.

  • Upgrade your lighting: Both halogen and incandescent lighting give off heat. Upgrading to screw-in LED lighting will solve that problem, and save on energy and replacement costs. BC Hydro offers incentives for qualifying businesses to make the switch.
  • Automate equipment shut down: Use power bars and smart strips to reduce phantom loads and make it easier to turn off officeequipment. Also, many computers come with energy management software that will turn off computers when they haven't been in use for a pre-set period of time.
  • Use non-mechanical cooling solutions: Using blinds or awnings to keep sun off windows, especially west-facing windows. It's an inexpensive solution with a short payoff. Where possible, plant a deciduous tree or vines to shade windows in summer, but drop their leaves to let in light over the winter.
  • Install programmable thermostats: Programmable thermostats allow you to set cooling or heating to come on only when needed. Most models also provide a lockout which stops short-cycling by preventing heating in summer and cooling in winter.