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Children's Hospital

Here’s where hospitals find energy cost savings

Written by: Alexa Stone

Energy costs at U.S. hospitals average $1.67 per square foot for electricity and 48 cents per square foot for natural gas. Lighting, heating, and hot water typically represent 61-79% of total energy use. The numbers vary with climate. Regardless, energy cost savings can be claimed in every state, in any season.[1]

Quick fixes

The return on labor and parts cost can be substantial for these:

  • Switch off or disconnect devices when not needed
    • Computers
    • Lights
    • Air-handling units, where not needed at night
  • Adjust settings in unoccupied areas
    • Air-handling setbacks in unoccupied OR
    • Room temperatures
  • Plan and conduct scheduled maintenance and cleaning
    • Inspect AC system vents and airflow
    • Measure AC input/output temperatures
    • Filter changes (monthly)
    • Condenser coils inspected and cleaned (quarterly)
  • Verify water temperatures necessary for laundry

Longer-term solutions

These may be budget items but are almost certain to have positive Return On Investment.

  • Commissioning
  • Continuously monitoring of building energy systems
    This can lead to reductions of 10 to 15 percent in annual energy bills.
  • Cogeneration of space heat, water heat, and power
  • Lighting upgrades
    • Replacing T12 fluorescent lamps with T8 lamps and electronic ballasts. This will reduce per-fixture energy use by as much as 35%.
    • Upgrading to fluorescent fixture reflectors and lenses
    • Replacing older fixtures with LED or Compact Florescent Lamp (CFL) fixtures
  • Laundry wastewater heat recoveryHeat in stored wastewater can be used to preheat incoming water.

Energy use at hospitals is expensive. It’s also a Greenhouse Gas (GhG) concern! Roughly 10% of U.S. GhG emissions have been attributed to healthcare. These are some of the ways Kaiser Permanente eliminated the 800,000-ton annual carbon footprint of its 39 hospitals and 715 medical offices:[2]

  • Initiated working groups to champion energy consumption, waste processing, and purchasing best practices
  • Installed 44 MW of on-site solar arrays, supporting 100 sites
  • Purchased ENERGY STAR® appliances
  • Installed low-flow and automatic water fixtures
  • Installed occupancy sensors
  • Purchased carbon offsets


[1] – Document file