Make a list of what you can do to make your business more energy efficient, and check it twice. The holiday season can be a time of more energy usage, given fewer hours of daylight, colder temperatures and the extra energy required to illuminate special displays and decorations. You can do a lot to eliminate waste while saving dollars in the process. The measures described here are a great place to start. Think of them as our holiday gift to Michigan business owners.

The Envelope Please

Your building’s envelope — its seal against the outdoors — is key to energy efficiency. Little changes can go a long way toward big savings, both in terms of energy usage and utility bills. Thermal imaging can detect areas where heat escapes and cold wind enters. A pro will do it for you if you schedule an energy consultation, but you can check yourself with a thermal leak detector. Check window and door seals. Insulation is key to staying warm on cold days. Make sure yours meets the R-value standard for the area and that all areas are covered; seal gaps with caulk and insulating foam.

Proactive Measures

Is your furnace in sync with the spirit of the season? Does it sing merrily and effectively fight off the chill, and does the humidifier function properly? An HVAC system tune-up can do wonders to ensure comfort and reduce energy usage. DTE Energy recommends enrolling in an HVAC maintenance contract that can help ensure that your system is always at peak performance. And if your furnace is 15 years old or more, replacement might be in order.

Outside the Box

If you decorate the exterior of your building with holiday lights, do it with LEDs and save money while reducing your carbon footprint. LED holiday lights use only a fraction of the energy that old-fashioned incandescent lights use. Don’t forget parking lot lighting or other exterior lamps. Again, LEDs are the answer to the questions everyone is asking about lighting and energy usage. They’re a gift for your bottom line and the environment.

Deck the Halls

If your retail or dining establishment is in an area with pedestrian traffic, the colder weather can help motivate people to stop in for a visit. But you have to make your facility inviting. Make sure your decor and lighting says welcome to all. Another nice touch for those passing by on cold days is a thermal door space that provides the gift of a bit of warmth on a blustery day.

Shed a Little Light

Many retail establishments create holiday displays. If those displays are illuminated with energy-efficient LED lamps rather than incandescent lights, you’ll save on utility bills while reducing your carbon footprint. Strings of decorative LED lights can replace old-fashioned incandescent holiday lights as well, reducing seasonal energy usage considerably. Don’t forget that Exit sign. If it isn’t LED illuminated, it’s wasting energy. Inexpensive retrofit kits make the job easy, and you’ll the cost in about a year.

Speaking of Gifts

Give your business and bottom line another gift with a free Business Energy Consultation (BEC). The BEC includes an on-site inspection of your business by a skilled energy educator. The technician will check for equipment malfunctions, examine the seal of doors and windows and inspect the insulation. Free energy-saving equipment will be installed that could include LED lamps, a pre-rinse spray valve for restaurant sinks, faucet aerators, insulating pipe wrap, a programmable thermostat and more. See the Toolbox for more information.

This article orginaally appeared in Energy Smarts, a publication of DTE Energy.