Control Your Energy Costs

A recent survey of 35 senior living communities in the Mid-Atlantic region found energy usage varied between 50,000 and 160,000 Btu per square foot per year of total energy usage. Total annual energy costs per square foot ranged from a high of $2.83 to a low of $0.88. Energy is one of the most significant costs in a facility’s annual operating and maintenance budget. To best understand your potential for improvement, start by benchmarking your facility against Energy Star using Portfolio Manager. The Goals tab on the website will compare your facility to similar facilities using a median score of 50 and an Energy Star rated property with a score of 75. Once you know your baseline, it’s time to review your facility’s operations to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

Working with a professional to conduct an in-depth energy audit of your facility often identifies ways to reduce energy consumption. Start with a review of your Building Automation System. Here are just a few questions to ask.

  • Are space temperature setpoints appropriate for my building’s occupants? Consider adjusting seasonal heating and cooling setpoints – cooler in winter and warmer in summer.
  • Am I adjusting setpoints based on occupancy? Unoccupied setpoints can be lowered to 60 degrees for heating and raised to 80 degrees for cooling as long as your system has capacity to recover and achieve occupied setpoints without generating occupant complaints.
  • Is equipment operating in “Automatic” or have equipment over-rides been implemented to compensate for faulty programming or special circumstances that may no longer be valid?
  • Are there instances with simultaneous heating and cooling? This is generally caused by programming errors or mechanical failures. Unless required for dehumidification, this condition wastes energy without delivering tangible benefits to the occupants.
  • Are supply hot water and chilled water temperature setpoints reset based on outdoor air temperatures? Adjusting these setpoints can improve chiller and boiler efficiencies.

These Energy Efficiency Measures can often be addressed either by the building operator or a qualified BAS service technician. The associated cost savings resulting from these adjustments frequently pay for the programming time in less than six months. For any questions relating to benchmarking or energy audits, please do not hesitate to contact Ed Ritter, PE at (717) 845-7654 or

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