5 ways to reduce firehouse energy costs

Switching to energy-efficient products will significantly reduce energy consumption and cost

State and local government agencies spend more than $10 billion a year on energy to provide public services and meet constituents' needs — putting a strain on taxpayers and budget decision makers facing shrinking budgets.

Here are five tools to increase energy efficiency at a firehouse to cut energy consumption and reduce operational overhead for big savings. 

Commercial Dishwashers

ENERGY STAR-certified commercial dishwashers include several innovations that reduce energy and water consumption and improve performance. Energy Star dishwashers use less energy than conventional models and helps reduce a department's energy cost at about an average of $40 per year compared with model manufactured prior to 1994.

Dishwashers manufactured prior to 1994 can waste more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. A new, Energy Star-qualified dishwasher will save, on average, 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Energy Star-rated soil sensors test how dirty dishes are throughout the wash and adjust the cycle to achieve optimum cleaning with minimum water and energy use. Improved water filtration removes food soils from the wash water, allowing efficient use of detergent and water throughout the cycle.

In addition, more efficient jets use less energy to spray detergent and water over the dishes when cleaning, and new dish rack designs maximize cleaning by strategically situating the dishes.

By reducing water consumption, Energy Star-certified dishwashers also help protect our lakes, streams and oceans.

Ductless Heating and Cooling

Energy Star-certified ductless heating and cooling systems are highly efficient products that deliver warm or cool air directly into different zones in a building instead of routing it through ducts first. They are often referred to as mini-split, multi-split or variable refrigerant flow heat pump systems.

Ductless systems are an increasingly popular, cost-effective solution to replace inefficient baseboard electric heating and window air conditioners in older buildings.

The installation is relatively straight-forward; many contractors familiar with the technology find it easier to install than traditional heating and cooling systems.

However, although this technology is widely used around the world, many contractors in the U.S. are still unfamiliar with it. Be sure to search for a reputed contractor familiar with ductless or mini-split systems.

The easiest way to find a model is to ask a professional installer for an Energy Star-qualified model. Energy Star offers tips on how to hire a contractor and get an ENERGY STARQuality Installation.


LED lighting is a rapidly evolving technology that produces light in a whole new way. It already is beginning to surpass the quality and efficiency of existing lighting technologies, such as fluorescent and incandescent — but not all LED lighting is created equal.

ENERGY STAR-qualified LED lighting can reduce a department's energy bill for lighting because it uses 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting.

Qualified LED lighting products last a long time — a minimum of 25,000 hours of use — and come with a minimum 3-year warranty, far beyond the industry standard.

In addition to being durable — LEDS don't break like a bulb—this lighting reduces a department's air conditioning costs because LEDs produce very little heat.

High-performing commercial lighting products eligible for Energy Star-qualification include commercial downlights, such as recessed, pendant and surface mount; commercial under cabinet shelf-mounted task lighting; and commercial portable desk task lights.

Room Air Cleaners

Clean air delivery rate (CADR) is a measure of the amount of contaminant-free air delivered by the room air cleaner. The Energy Star specification requires that manufacturers measure CADR according to AHAM/ANSI AC-1-2002, a test procedure developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and recognized by the American National Standards Institute.

When considering the purchase of an Energy Star-qualified room air cleaner, the comparison should not be based solely on CADR. The CADR of a specific air cleaner model is affected by a number of factors including the size of the model.

Water Heaters

An ENERGY STAR-qualified solar water heating system can cut a department's annual water heating costs in half and is designed generally for use with an electric or gas back-up water heater. A department can save $140 annually or $2,900 over the lifetime of the water heater, if it combines solar with a backup gas storage water heater instead of using the gas water heater alone.

A department that uses an electric tank water heater for back-up can save about $280 or $5,200 over the lifetime of the water heater each year on electricity bills.

An Energy Star-certified solar water heater can cut a department's carbon dioxide emissions in half. Installing a certified solar water heater will prevent 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually. This is the equivalent of not driving a car for four months every year.

Taking simple measures can lead to big savings.

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