From Simple to Sophisticated: Summertime Energy Savings Tips

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As the summer heat sets in, Minnesota businesses are facing a common challenge: how to keep their customers comfortable and employees productive while managing control of energy costs.

With commercial electricity usage* growing by approximately 3.5% annually, this demand can add to price pressure. Plus, ventilation and cooling* can be up to 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings. The good news, there are plenty of things a business can do to help contain costs without sacrificing comfort.

Take control, the smart way:

Generally, increasing thermostat settings for air cooling by 1° to 2° Fahrenheit change can help reduce energy use by 1-4%. Plus, this slight uptick amount goes unnoticed by most people. This is easy to accomplish with a smart thermostat or building energy management system.

Smart thermostats can also be programmed to reduce energy use during unoccupied hours in the evening or on weekends. By scaling back cooling when unneeded, your building can run even leaner. You can even establish a good working schedule and take advantage of pre-cooling areas when and where needed in your building to take advantage of lower, off-peak electric rates.

Smart Thermostats also provide flexible remote control, useful energy monitoring capabilities, and secure system access benefits. Leverage smart thermostats by targeting low-use rooms such as break rooms or cafeterias and make energy-saving adjustments after use.

This summer, reducing your energy costs and keeping your customers content and workforce productive will happen when the cooling is balanced by setting it appropriately for specific areas. With a smart thermostat, you can adjust the temperature as you like and watch the smart thermostat respond to your business's lifestyle and schedule.

Set a cleaning routine:

Develop and establish a checklist. Items can include condenser coils, fan blades, and other areas in and around HVAC systems. Remember to monitor your air movement filters. Summer creates much more debris from plants, insects, animals, and even weather events. Also, filters tend to clog quicker if you are located near heavy traffic or construction sites.

Get to know your building's envelope:

The exterior, trim, and insulative barriers are other areas to watch. Look for cracks or missing pieces along the periphery. The gaps can leak energy, and that means money. Tight window trim, doorways, and other entrances will also help keep your building comfortable and energy efficient all year.

Leverage demand management offerings:

Through demand management efforts like Xcel Energy's AC Rewards program, qualifying businesses can receive a free thermostat and cash incentive. This program also helps your community reduce peak electricity demand by better managing power distribution during the hottest summer days so everyone can have power. Xcel Energy offers a variety of other demand management programs to fit your specific needs.

Put time on your side:

Time of Use (TOU) is a variable rate program that changes at specific hours of the day and reflects the actual cost of generating and delivering electricity from a wide range of cleaner sources. With the Time of Use rate, your bill is based on how and when you use energy. The more your business can shift usage to lower-priced off-peak hours, the more you can reduce what you pay for electricity.

Watch for smart meters coming to your business:

Since you cannot effectively manage what you cannot clearly measure, new state-of-the-art electric meters are being installed across Xcel Energy service areas. These devices provide a holistic approach to energy efficiency through a more detailed view of your energy consumption.

When it's time to replace:

Even with rigorous maintenance routines, consistent cleaning cadences, and filter updates, equipment will, in time, complete its life cycle. A new, more efficient cooling system is a capital investment, but it can also result in lower energy use, save on maintenance, and provide greater reliability. When upgrading, factor in the rebates available on new energy-efficient technology models such as:

  • Humidity controls for enhanced occupant comfort.
  • Chillers for cost-effective cooling.
  • Direct evaporative pre-coolers to help manage costs.
  • Electronically commutated (EC) motors to maximize electric efficiency.

Sustainability is good for business:

Make your business more sustainable by reducing your overall energy consumption. This can help you reduce your carbon footprint and lower energy costs.

Start today:

Xcel Energy Advisors are on hand at 855-839-8862 to help with various programs and rebates. Some programs offer free energy data analysis and engineering that enables you to capture additional rebates.

Visit to view more tips from Xcel Energy and discover how your business can get started saving money and energy today!