Lighted Office BuildingBusinesses that are looking to cut down on their energy bills have a tendency to make the problem more complicated than it really needs to be. Lots of people assume that if they want to cut costs, they’re either going to need to pay make some serious up-front investments or they’re going to have to work in an ice box half of the year and a sauna the other half.

Energy analytics firm FirstFuel Software points out that commercial energy savings aren’t anywhere near as difficult as these people are making them out to be.

In fact, when the company analyzed a group of medium and large utility and government buildings earlier this year, more than half – 51 percent – of all potential energy savings came from operational changes that came along without any real price tag at all.

That’s more than $12 million in savings for those buildings and potentially as much as $17 billion for the U.S. as a whole.

“While building retrofits remain the primary focus within commercial energy efficiency, our deep analysis of interval data reveals that a vast savings opportunity still remains largely untouched,” Swapnil Shah, co-founder and CEO of FirstFuel, said in a statement. “These findings show that the commercial building sector has a chance to essentially double the potential for energy savings, while simultaneously slashing efficiency implementation costs by a significant margin.”

Some of the changes FirstFuel highlighted are fairly simple as well, in some cases bordering on embarrassing.

The company’s assessment found that many businesses keep their buildings heated or cooled well before and well after when anyone is actually around to benefit from comfortable conditions. What’s more many buildings that make use of a variety of heating and cooling methods failed to properly sequence them so that they were always using the more efficient approach before the less efficient technique.

Probably the most egregious example, however – and a common complaint from people who live and work in large buildings – was the common tendency to run heating and cooling systems at the same time. Ideally, when temperatures reach a certain point, the heater will shut down and the cooling system will kick on. Instead, FirstFuel found that many buildings would run them both at the same time around these transition points, with each system fighting hard to beat the other.

If your office is anything like FirstFuel’s sample, making some common sense changes to your building could mean major savings.

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