The Energy Chronicles

6 Things Businesses in Iowa Don’t Realize About Their Energy Use

Businesses need energy to operate. But are the business owners aware how their energy is being used? Here are six facts about energy use that will help building owners understand their usage and operate their buildings more efficiently.

  1. Even new HVAC equipment needs maintenance.
    • Maintenance costs should be taken into account when pricing out a new HVAC system. Do not assume that new equipment can operate untouched for the first few years.
  2. There are multiple electric rate structures.
    • There are multiple categories of rates that utilities charge, and it’s helpful to know which rate you are on. For instance, there are often different “Small Commercial” and “Large Commercial” rates. You want to know if your business is being charged for demand, if you have different on and off-peak rates, and how your summer rate differs from your winter rate.
  3. Natural gas is cheaper than electricity right now.
    • In Iowa, electricity is 2-3 times more expensive than natural gas per BTU of energy.
  4. Operating hours are important.
    • Even high efficiency equipment can be large energy users if the operating hours are long. Make sure equipment doesn’t run longer than needed.
  5. Setbacks save energy.
    • In many systems, reducing the heating temperatures overnight will save energy. Operators are often nervous that the energy it will take to re-heat the building will end up costing more, but often this is not the case.
  6. Order of improvements matters.
    • When considering multiple improvements, building envelope projects should be completed before HVAC projects. Smaller heating equipment will suffice after air sealing and insulation projects reduce the building’s heat loss.
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