Commercial energy savings tips

Saving energy doesn’t have to be costly or create discomfort for your employees or customers. Follow these tips to take control of your energy usage.

  • Conduct a nighttime audit to find out what’s on afterhours that shouldn’t be.
  • Revise janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each night.
  • Optimize start-up time, power-down time, and equipment sequencing. 
  • Join SMUD’s Demand Response program. Contact your SMUD Strategic Account Advisor to learn if the program is a good fit for your organization.
  • Engage your employees for energy-saving tips. Have a casual dress code during the hot weather and then adjust the thermostat accordingly.
  • Install hand dryers — the cost of paper towel purchases in most cases is more expensive than automatic hand dryers.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR(R) qualified equipment — the logo indicates equipment tested for energy efficiency.
  • Inspect insulation on all piping, ducting and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.).
  • Repair leaks and adjust pressure in compressed air systems.
  • Repair steam trap leaks; replace malfunctioning steam traps.
  • Repair damaged insulation and replace missing insulation with thicknesses calculated for the conditions of the mechanical system.
  • Review and emphasize the financial and environmental results of a preventative maintenance program for major systems and components.
  • Set goals and a methodology to track and reward improvements.
  • Regularly check and maintain equipment to ensure its functioning efficiently.
  • Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. Shut computers off at night. 
  • Activate sleep settings on all printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, and multifunction devices to enter sleep mode when inactive. Check the owner's manual or ask your service vendor to ensure your machines are configured to take full advantage of these features.
  • Use a smart power strip to help control phantom loads (electricity used by devices that are plugged into an electrical system, but not being used). Unplug electronics that are not used often.
  • Print double-sided to reduce paper.
  • Remove unnecessary lamps in over-lit areas.
  • Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight is sufficient. This can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40%.
  • Install motion sensors in rooms that are rarely used.
  • Use task lighting where feasible.
  • Switch out lights bulbs to energy-efficient LED bulbs.
  • Implement a regular lighting maintenance program.


  • Install an energy management system or put a lock box around energy controls.
  • Set back the thermostat in the evenings and other times when the building isn’t occupied.
  • Adjust thermostats for seasonal changes.
    • In the summer, set your thermostat between 76-78 degrees.
    • In the winter, set your thermostats between 68-72 degrees.
  • Calibrate thermostats to ensure that their ambient temperature readings are correct.


  • Regularly change or clean HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
  • Make sure the areas in front of vents are clear of furniture and paper. Blocked vents can require as much as 25% more energy to distribute air.
  • Replace air handler filters frequently. This keeps the air clean and prevent equipment from working harder to force air through dirty filters.
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on heat pumps, air-conditioners, or chillers. Dirty coils prevent heat transfer; keeping coils clean saves energy.

Windows and doors

  • Replace old caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors. Preventing air leaks by can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs.
  • Keep exterior doors closed while running your HVAC. It sounds simple, but it will help avoid wasteful loss of heated or cooled air!
  • Use shades and blinds to control direct sun through windows (and heat gain) throughout the year.
  • During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through the east — and especially west — sides of the facility. 
    • Options such as solar screens, solar films, awnings and exterior blinds can block up to 70% of the sun's heat. 
    • Planting trees can attractively shade the facility and help clean the air over time.
  • During heating season, unblock southern windows to help with solar heat gain during the day.

Looking for more?

For help finding the most energy-saving equipment and opportunities for your business, visit our Business Energy Advisor website.