Each year, hospitals in the U.S. spend an average of $1.67 on electricity and $0.48 on natural gas per square foot. Around 60-80% of total energy costs come from lighting, heating, and hot water. For larger healthcare facilities or hospitals, this can add up to thousands of dollars in energy bills. Since many hospitals and healthcare facilities have strict budgets, energy cost reductions are crucial. To better manage your energy costs, analyze how your organization uses energy and look for improvements that can be made.
- Check computer settings. Desktop computers can use more than twice the energy of a flat-screen monitor. Computers used in laboratories and offices should be shut down when they are not in use. At the very least, computer settings should be set to enter sleep mode after a certain period of inactivity. ENERGY STAR has a power management program that you can download on each computer to make them enter sleep mode when computers are inactive.
- Install occupancy sensors, timers, and dimmers. Turning off lights when they’re not in use is key to saving on energy, but relying on your busy employees to remember to shut off a light every time they leave a room is unrealistic. Installing automatic controls like occupancy sensors, timers, and dimmers can help.
- Shut down air-handling units. Air-handling units draw their air supply from outside air, which needs to be either heated or cooled, depending on the season. If you have large fan systems that run in cafeterias, offices, or other unoccupied areas at night, shut them down. Installing occupancy sensors can also help reduce the units’ operation when these areas are not being used.
- Check room temperatures. Not all rooms in hospitals or healthcare facilities are occupied 24 hours a day. These rooms should have programmable thermostats that adjust the temperature of the room when they are not being used.
- Maintain your HVAC. Having your HVAC system regularly cleaned and serviced can ensure it’s running correctly and prevent unnecessarily expensive heating and cooling bills. Filters should be changed monthly, or more often if the building is located near a highway or construction site. Checking your HVAC’s economizer regularly is important, as a broken economizer can add as much as 50% to a building’s annual energy bill due to letting in hot or cold air.
- Explore laundering options. Laundry systems consume large amounts of energy. Reducing water temperatures when washing laundry can help cut back on energy usage. With modern detergents and bleaches, hospital laundry can be safely and effectively washed at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Choose more efficient lighting. Incandescent lighting is outdated and extremely energy inefficient. If your facility uses incandescent lighting, replace it with CFLs or LEDs. This can reduce your energy costs by up to two-thirds. Be sure to utilize natural lighting and windows wherever possible.
- Consider cogeneration systems. These provide power and heat for spaces and water. Sterilization, laundry, and kitchen equipment can all benefit from heat-recovery systems. The use of cogeneration systems offers more savings for hospitals and healthcare facilities than for any other class of commercial building.
- Look for ENERGY STAR equipment. When making new equipment purchases, choose energy-efficient options like those offered by ENERGY STAR. This equipment is typically in the top 15-30% of its field in terms of energy performance. ENERGY STAR equipment uses 20-30% less energy than standard models. Some products offered include refrigerators, water heaters, washers, dryers, light bulbs, and commercial dishwashers. These products may be more expensive initially than standard options but make up for their cost difference in energy savings over the years.
Cutting energy costs wherever possible is vital when running a hospital or healthcare facility. The options above can help reduce your energy usage and environmental impact, and help keep your facility, patients, and staff comfortable and safe.
Interested in learning more about saving on energy? Contact the experts at UGI Energy Services today.