Whether you are a business owner or a facility manager, maximizing energy efficiency is important to your bottom line. Improving energy efficiency not only helps the environment, but it also provides significant savings. If you are reducing electricity usage or cutting heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) energy expenses, use the following ideas to improve the sustainability and energy efficiency of your buildings or business.

1. Make Lighting Changes to Reduce Electricity Usage

Making lighting changes can reduce your electricity usage, resulting in lower electricity bills while increasing overall energy efficiency. One of the simplest ways to reduce electricity usage is to turn off lights that are not in use. Make it easy by installing motion sensors or timers to turn off unused lights. Using lighting controls like timers and motion sensors can reduce energy costs by over 40 percent, according to EfficiencySmart.org.

Purchasing Energy Star qualified lamps help reduce electricity usage, too. Try using energy efficientflorescentlighting instead of metal halide lighting fixtures. HPT8 high-bay fixtures may be used instead of metal halide fixtures for huge energy savings. Businesses also need to avoid over-lighting areas. Over-lighting increases power bills while causing headaches, eyestrain and glare.

2. Use Fans and Programmable Thermostats to Cut HVAC Energy Expenses

The use of fans and programmable thermostats help cut HVAC energy expenses. SBA.gov suggests that fans save energy while maintaining comfortable air movement and temperature year round. The use of fans often allows buildings to remain comfortable while setting the air conditioning three to five degrees higher, significantly reducing cooling costs in the summer.

Installing a programmable thermostat also improves energy efficiency and can reduce HVAC energy expenses by 20 percent to 30 percent. Adjust programmable thermostats lower when heating and higher when cooling unoccupied areas, which results in big savings.

3. Reduce Power Usage with Energy Efficient Office Equipment

Using energy-efficient office equipment helps to reduce power usage, resulting in improved energy efficiency for business owners. Purchase Energy Star office equipment when replacing office equipment. These products include printers, computers, fax machines, copiers, scanners and monitors.

Using Energy Star office equipment can save 50 percent or more in energy costs, according to SRPnet.com. Plug load controllers also help improve energy efficiency by shutting down inactive equipment when an area is unoccupied.

4. Maintain Water Heaters and Pipes to Reduce Water and Power Usage

Regularly maintaining water heaters and water pipes reduces water and power usage. Regular maintenance for water heaters includes removing deposits and scale. The addition of insulation blankets may reduce standby heat loss, improving energy efficiency.

Maintaining water pipes helps to reduce water usage. Water leaks waste water and can quickly cost your business hundreds of dollars. Hot water leaks are especially costly, so properly maintaining water pipes can prevent wasting money on high water bills or electricity bills due to water leaks.

5. Plant Trees Around Buildings to Improve Energy Efficiency

While planting full-grown, beautiful trees around buildings requires a significant investment, doing so helps improve energy efficiency in several ways. Trees act as windbreaks, reducing wind speeds significantly. In cooler months, the reduction of wind speed around a building can reduce heating costs. Inc.com notes that trees also offer natural cooling, providing shade and reducing cooling costs by up to 30 percent.

Energy efficiency continues to be important for businesses and facility managers looking for ways to reduce their bottom line and improve profits. As businesses begin taking steps to improve energy efficiency and sustainability, most find that the savings significantly surpass the investment in energy efficient technologies.