Energy Costs, Inflation make heating efficiency important

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The return of colder weather always has building owners and facility managers looking for ways to reduce energy use and operate their commercial properties more efficiently. But this year, the stakes are especially high.

Supply chain disruptions and inflation are impacting operations of all kinds. The unpredictable costs of resources like crude oil and iron ore are cascading into other items like diesel fuel and building appliances. This is leading to significant price increases across the board, giving building managers headaches.

When the heat goes on, energy costs rise.

Volatile energy costs stand out as a challenge for businesses — for a good reason. It is estimated that about one-third of total non-fixed operating expenses go toward energy use in commercial buildings. More than half is spent on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

More notably, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted on average, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And that presents a notable opening for energy savings. So what can you do? One obvious option is to simply cut back on energy usage. But turning down the thermostats can only go so far. Here are three phases to help you manage energy costs this winter.

First, maximize what you have.

Regular maintenance is a best practice for minimizing your energy usage. There are a whole host of opportunities to keep the heating plant humming:

  • Boiler and furnace tune-ups
  • Pipe insulation or retrofit
  • Steam trap repairs and stack dampers to better modulate airflow
  • Monthly filter checks
  • Outdoor air reset controls that continually react to outdoor temperatures to optimize heating performance

Take advantage of all rebates, incentives, and programs. Xcel Energy is now offering numerous bonus rebates to help its business customers.

Next, gather data to inform your energy efficiency efforts.

Management requires measurement, a timeless business principle. This is especially true for energy efficiency. And that is good news for all Xcel Energy business customers with Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) technology. As part of the AMI effort, new electric smart meters will connect companies to the next generation of our energy grid–the advanced grid.

These smart meters provide up-to-the-minute pricing information on kilowatt hours so you can manage the different time of use programs and pricing options to help integrate your energy goals with your operational needs.

Third, look deeper for efficiency and comfort opportunities.

Taking a closer look at your building may reveal other ways to save money and improve the indoor environment for employees and customers.

  • Air leaks matter Buildings, like tires, can suffer from annoying and dangerous leaks. Multiply that loss by several thousand, and you get an idea of how much heat can be lost from a large structure. A basic thermal scanning session will reveal leak areas. Often, these can be easily patched or fortified to improve the insulative quality.
  • Leverage automation and controls Building automation and controls enable automatic, constant adjustments to maximize energy efficiency. Today these systems use advanced programming, enabling them to perform much like an autopilot on a jetliner, adjusting faster and more precisely than any facilities manager or team. Plus, the off-site management capabilities via remote smart devices can mean greater control, troubleshooting, and convenience.
  • The quest for air quality The last several years have brought a new emphasis on heating comfort and indoor air quality. It's not only a public health issue,but also a workplace quality and productivity topic. Allergies, pollen, and other particles can irritate many of us. It's why MERV13 filters, bipolar ionization technology and UV filtering have been areas of focus in building airflow considerations.

Consider the larger picture.

Xcel Energy is encouraging businesses to consider heating improvements. With commercial buildings accounting for 18 percent of primary energy use in the US, we'll all benefit from this scale of energy savings. For information on assessments and rebates, contact an energy advisor at (855) 839-8862. Or visit to learn more about rebates that may be available to reduce the cost of energy-saving projects.


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