Improving Energy Efficiency Helps Save Money and the Environment


While shopping for a new appliance you may have noticed an ENERGY STAR rating card showing basic energy efficiency information. This information helps consumers choose appliances that are energy efficient, which not only saves money on operating costs, but can also improve air quality in their homes. But did you know that your path to energy efficiency doesn’t stop at purchasing an efficient appliance? There are several ways to ensure that your home is running as efficiently as possible, such as checking the temperature settings on your refrigerator and water heater, running appliances after 9 p.m. when electricity rates are lower, and checking for leaks in windows, doorways, and ventilation systems. Implementing just a few of these actions recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency will help you to save on energy costs and also reduce maintenance costs.

County of San Diego Actions

Here at the County of San Diego, the Department of General Services has been working to improve building energy efficiency in the over 10 million square feet of facilities that the department manages. This work helps to reduce utility and maintenance costs, improves indoor air quality, and contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a key objective of the Climate Action Plan.

To improve energy efficiency in existing buildings, the County completes “Retrocommissioning” projects that check, test, and adjust all energy consuming equipment to run as a fully functioning, integrated, and efficient system. For example, over time, a building’s heating and cooling system can start to underperform and certain critical components can cease to function or become obsolete. By checking the performance of these systems, the County can plan for maintenance and upgrades that end up saving on costs over the long run. Retrocommissioning projects at the Edgemoor Nursing Facility (December 2018 completion) and the Central Jail (December 2019 completion) included the reprogramming of existing controls and the installation of control devices to improve the sensitivity of heating and cooling systems to changing environmental conditions. This type of retrofit can save up to 70% of the energy required to run the system and can reduce maintenance costs since equipment is being used more efficiently and at a lower capacity. As a result of these projects and others, the County has reduced its energy consumption by 23% since CAP baseline, contributing greenhouse gas emissions reductions towards CAP Measure E-1.4.

Home Energy Yardstick

What You Can Do At Home

Although the County’s energy efficiency projects are likely at a scale and complexity larger than what you would complete at home, there are a few resources available for you to assess how efficient your home is and where to prioritize upgrades. This Home Energy Yardstick tool from ENERGY STAR helps residents determine how efficient their homes are compared to others in their area. In addition, the US Department of Energy also publishes information on how to efficiently heat and cool your home and other tips to save energy. No matter the size your improvement, implementing just a few of these energy efficiency measures will help you to save on energy costs and help the environment!