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9 Tips for Energy Efficient Healthcare Facilities – Part 1

patient beds in energy efficient hospital

Running a healthcare facility is always an interesting dance between cutting-edge technology and sticking with proven methods that work. Medical providers strive to offer their patients the highest quality care possible; they do this by remaining up-to-date on equipment, practices, and facility management policies. At the same time, it’s also necessary to keep the facility open as an independent and healthy business. Naturally, medical facility managers are constantly looking for opportunities to lower overhead without impacting quality of care or office morale. Becoming more energy efficient is one of those rare opportunities.

Medical facilities are almost always busy. Most of the time, medical professionals and the administrative staff who support them wouldn’t think twice about whether their workplace or actions were energy efficient. It’s enough that the light turns on and off when the switch is touched; one likely has little time to stop and think about energy efficient bulbs or wasted lumens. Fortunately, improving your healthcare facility’s energy efficiency is a steady project which doesn’t require more than a few minutes daily. Here are a few energy efficiency tips for healthcare facilities and doctors offices.

1) Establish an Energy Officer

The first step is to put someone in charge. It’s one thing to resolve as a group to generally look for ways to improve energy efficiency; it’s another to have a central mind deciding on methods and taking initiative. Many of the ways to increase energy efficiency, like replacing light bulbs and investigating current use, require only a small amount of directed thought and implementation. A well-suited member of your current staff may be able to take on the duties without interrupting their current role.

Put your energy officer in charge of looking into energy inefficiencies in the facility. You want them finding reasonable solutions and improvements to reduce your energy use. They’ll need a certain amount of power to take action on ideas they have and access to the support of a team a few hours a week for efforts that are much more energy efficient with more than one person working together. In most medical facilities, your energy officer will likely seek approval for budget and implementation after drawing up a plan. You can also equip them with a small budget for spot-improvements like outlet optimization and clever use of power strips.

2) Know Your Power Bills

Once you have an energy officer and a few people who will occasionally form their support team, it’s time to figure out what energy optimization will even look like for your facility. Every building is different and every business has a different energy use profile. The sum of all devices and building power can be seen as a number; this is a cost on your monthly power bill. The power bill may also hold other interesting insights; e.g., whether there are demand costs in your region and with your power provider.

Looking at past power bills will give you a clearer insight of how your usage fluctuates over the seasons. It can help you consider how it may have changed in the last few years. These changes could be due to upgrading, changing out, or installing new equipment. If you can match equipment or practice changes with past power bill fluctuations, you are on the right path to hunting down ways to bring those numbers down each month intentionally.

3) Investigate the Latest Equipment Models

The equipment and computers used in your medical facility are likely the biggest impact on your power bill other than the HVAC to maintain the building itself. Medical equipment does not follow the usual patterns of appliances and gadgets like coffee pots or office printers; however, they are seeing many of the same energy efficiency improvements. Do a little research on the medical and industry equipment your facility uses regularly. If there are new models that require less voltage or amperage, this means lower power consumption and greater energy efficiency.

There’s no guaranteeing which of your current equipment can be upgraded for a more energy efficient model; but depending on what you find, this could be a great opportunity to upgrade a reasonable amount of your facility equipment and perhaps a few of the computers.

4) Optimize Laundry Practices

One thing many medical facilities have which aren’t in common with the rest of the business world: laundry facilities. In order to keep everything sufficiently clean and be able to properly clean up after the occasional mess caused by an unwell patient, even small healthcare facilities may have their own laundry appliances and frequently run loads on the hottest settings possible. It’s a good idea to take a detailed look at these power-hungry machines. You may find a few ways to reduce the amount of energy they need.

If possible, consider upgrading to Energy Star rated appliances or something similar depending on the specialized laundry needs of your facility. Many new laundry machines are much more energy efficient than their predecessors made five or more years ago and the current machines might still be salable to another facility on their way up. You may also want to consider how many loads must be run on sanitizing hot and if there are any that could safely be run at cooler, more energy efficient temperatures.

[To be continued in Part 2]

Reducing your power use is all about understanding where the energy goes and the smart ways to conserve. Contact us today to find out more about how to reduce the energy use in your office and school!

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