As colleges, municipalities, K-12 schools, community groups and restaurants define new ways to operate amid COVID-19, energy experts at Alabama Power are providing easy ways to help manage energy use.
They suggest unplugging all unused office equipment and closing all blinds in a building to reduce energy use. Quick fixes to energy bills include lowering water heater temperature or turning off the equipment.
Lighting in a building should be regulated. Turn off interior and exterior lighting except in areas needed for security.
Air conditioning units can quickly run up costs inside a business, while turning air conditioning systems off can lead to humidity issues. Instead, raise the temperature setpoints to 85 degrees.
It is important to note that spaces without humidity controls should maintain at least 82 degrees to inhibit mold growth. Moisture in the air is also reduced by slowing the speed of air handler fans.
Experts said programmable thermostats are a great investment to make adjustments quickly and efficiently. Checking the temperature and moisture status can potentially be monitored on these devices through a smartphone or tablet. Programmable thermostats allow business owners to set the temperature to drift higher and program for a longer run during the day, which removes more moisture from the system.
Multiple heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units and programmable thermostats should not all be set to change temperatures at the same time. Scheduling them on a rotating basis is more energy efficient. Despite limited use, HVAC filters should still be checked and changed every 30 days.
When a building is unoccupied, it is important to close all outside air dampers and turn off make-up air systems. Fresh air requirements can be met through infiltration. During this time, conduct periodic checks for leaks, clogged air conditioner drains or building damages that could hurt energy efficiency.
Tips for restaurants to keep efficiency in mind
Alabama Power energy experts have more recommendations for restaurant owners, especially those with businesses in limited use.
Restaurants open for carryout should turn lights off and raise thermostat temperatures in dining areas that are not in use. Shutting off all cooking equipment and looking for water leaks can ensure more effective energy use.
Preventive maintenance is more important than ever. To make sure establishments continue to operate successfully, check out these guidelines:
- Refrigerators and freezers:
- Dispose of expiring inventory.
- Consolidate products with like temperature setpoints.
- Access panels:
- Clean louvers after power is turned off to remove any debris inside the machine.
- Perform an inspection for any problems, such as oil leaks, grease stains and metal filings that could be signs that something is wrong.
- Remove the top cover and inspect belts for cracking or wear.
- Having spare belts on hand to replace old ones can prevent costly interruptions during production.
- Clean with a rag and then vacuum all exposed surfaces with the power off.
- Play close attention to spaces between areas, such as body cooling fans, louvers over cooling fans and cooling openings.
- Clean with a dry rag after turning the burner off.
- Clean all dust, flour and lint near the air intake and elsewhere.
- Turn the burner on and with the handle of a screwdriver gently tap the gas line coming into the burner to dislodge dust or rust.
Visit AlabamaPower.com/COVIDsupport for more pandemic-related information.
Additional resources for business and individuals who need or want to give support can be found at ALtogetheralabama.org, Gov. Kay Ivey’s online guide to COVID-19 relief efforts.