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You probably spend many energy dollars on heating and cooling your building. Employee comfort is a high priority, and product quality may dictate certain temperature requirements. Installing the programmable thermostats and energy-efficient boilers and water heaters described in this section is an easy way to start saving energy; proper maintenance is equally important.

You may also be able to save energy by managing the sunlight that falls on your building. Solar hot water systems and solar heating systems are two potentially economical solar energy technologies you might want to consider.

Businesses have found that the following basic steps can save energy, increase comfort, and enhance equipment operation.

Programmable thermostats
These simple microprocessor-based products offer as much as a 50% rate of return on energy dollars. In addition, these devices will maintain system start-up and set-back schedules for optimum comfort. They can also eliminate unnecessary HVAC use during unoccupied hours.

Furnace maintenance and cleaning
In easy first step is to replace dirty air filters. It's often well worth the expense to have a trained specialist inspect and perform needed maintenance on your furnace and cooling system. Also, simple maintenance such as cleaning intake screens, condenser coils, supply registers, and return grills can make a difference in your energy bills.

Duct maintenance and repair
Typical duct systems lose energy from your heating and air-conditioning equipment. Use duct tape to seal duct joints and elbows where accessible. Insulate any duct work in unconditioned space, such as roofs, attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Identify and repair damaged or disconnected ducts while you check the system.

If your building uses a boiler for heating, follow the factory maintenance schedule and procedures. If you're using a fuel other than natural gas, consider switching to natural gas, which is less expensive. If maintenance costs for your existing boiler have become excessive or you need to replace your boiler, replace it with a high-efficiency model.

Ventilation rate
Building ventilation is necessary so that your building has a reasonable supply of fresh air. However, excessive ventilation rates increase your heating and cooling costs dramatically. Have a professional engineer or trained specialist optimize your system's ventilation rate.

Hot water supply
Your hot water temperature is often set higher than you really need. Gradually set the temperature downward until you reach an optimum. You can also install flow restrictors and self-closing faucets; they'll reduce your hot water use. Finally, check your entire system for leaks and repair them.

Water heater
One of the most effective measures you can use is an insulating jacket for the water heater. These jackets are easily found at large convenience, building, and hardware supply stores. A simple electronic time-of-use controller will ensure that your electric water heater is off when not needed.

You can use the sun's energy to maximize natural lighting and heating, which will decrease costs for artificial lighting and space heating.

On the other hand, you may live in a very warm, sunny climate where air-conditioning is your building's greatest energy expense. In that case, you'll want to minimize the effects of the sun's energy.

Direct sunlight: enhancement or control
Sunlight striking your building can work for you or against you. When you're trying to cool your building, you don't want sunlight pouring in through windows, doors, and skylights, adding considerably to your air-conditioning bills. However, when you're heating your building, you want the sunlight to enter your building.

During the air-conditioning season, provide shading to windows, doors, and skylights. This can be done effectively with awnings, sunscreens, shade trees, and shrubbery.

During the heating season, you can save money by permitting sunlight to enter the building through windows and other openings. In addition, you'll attain the benefits of daylighting.

Solar hot water systems
Many small businesses (for example, restaurants, bars, and dry cleaners) have large water-heating needs that can be economically and reliably met by solar energy. Depending on the cost of your current water-heating system and its energy source (oil, electricity, natural gas, or propane), basic solar water heating or preheating may make economic sense. Check with local or state energy offices, local utilities, energy businesses, universities, or your accountant for the availability of state tax incentives or technical assistance to businesses using solar water heating systems.

Solar heating systems as supplements to HVAC systems
Most commercial/industrial warehouses in cold-weather states are heavy users of thermal energy—heat. In most areas, an all-electric heating system (the most easily installed) will be expensive to operate and will leave you vulnerable to power outages and ever-increasing energy rates.

Supplemental space heating is efficiently provided by the transpired solar collector, a type of solar collector that heats air for the building. In 1994, this new collector received a "Best of What's New" award from Popular Science (February 1994, page 20). This system has been effectively demonstrated, meeting winter head-on in Canada. Check with local or state energy offices, local utilities, energy businesses, universities, or your accountant for the availability of state tax incentives or technical assistance to businesses using solar heating systems.

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