Desert Sunrise

During the sweltering summer months, many businesses balance keeping their customers, clients and employees cool and comfortable with keeping their energy costs down.

But there are easy steps that businesses – both small and large – can take to better manage their electric use, according to Tucson Electric Power’s energy-efficiency experts.

Tune it up: Before summer begins, get an air conditioner tune-up to make sure your system is operating properly and efficiently. Dirty and clogged air filters can block airflow, making the AC work harder while producing less cool air.

Control your thermostat: A smart thermostat can help you plan your energy use. Some brands have settings such as “auto away” to shut off the AC when no one is working as well as remote controls to adjust the temperature in multiple offices or locations.

Medium and large-sized businesses often install energy management systems to monitor energy use throughout their buildings. But just having a system isn’t enough to control costs. As the weather and use of the buildings change, the settings may need to be updated to optimize energy savings.

Time your usage: If your business is on a time-of-use pricing plan, you can save money when you reduce your energy use during on-peak times. On-peak hours are 2-8 p.m. Monday through Friday from May through September. All other times – including weekends and holidays – are off-peak. Find out more and compare plans on tep.com.

Raise the temp: Businesses must choose temperature settings that work best for both patrons and employees. Generally, overall energy costs can be reduced by 2-3 percent for every degree the thermostat is raised.

Also, ceiling and floor fans can help keep you cooler.

“It’s all about balancing affordability and comfort,” said Armando Ruiz, Senior Technical Specialist for TEP’s Commercial Energy Efficiency Programs and Services.

Don’t try to save energy by turning off your AC when your business is closed, as you’re likely to use even more energy to cool the building upon your return. Instead, turn your thermostat up a few degrees during off hours. The right amount will vary depending on the size and configuration of your building.

Light it up: LEDs use less energy, run much cooler than incandescent bulbs and last longer – all factors that will help reduce your summer energy expenses.

Turn off lights and signs when they aren’t needed, like after closing times and in sunlit rooms. Install sensors in areas that aren’t always used, such as storage, conference or break rooms, so the lights turn off when no one is there.

Block and seal: Awnings, sun shades and blinds can block the sun from shining into south- or west-facing windows in restaurants, stores or offices.

Check to make sure doors and windows are properly sealed to prevent cool air from escaping and hot air from drifting in.

Prepare for monsoons: Summer storms come along with the heat in Tucson. While TEP has top-ranked reliable service, unavoidable outages can occur during high winds and heavy rain. If your power does go out, track restoration progress with TEP’s outage map on tep.com and the mobile app. Find more monsoon tips here.