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Makerspace Energy Conservation Measures


The goal of nearly all makerspaces/hackerspaces involves providing a place for people to work and learn. The type of building can vary greatly: houses, basements, garages, strip malls, etc. Despite their unique features and locations, all spaces use energy in some form. Energy costs money! Unless you're independently wealthy or at least profitable, saving money is worthwhile. This is especially true for groups just getting started, but can apply to everyone.

Who is this for?

Anyone can do this! All it takes is some effort and guidance. It helps if you're already interested in building construction, home improvement, or DIY projects, but it's not absolutely necessary.

What should I do?


What are your goals? What is your primary focus?

  • First determine which are most important to you:
    • Save money
    • Save energy
    • Improve member comfort
    • Improve member productivity
    • Etc.
  • Consider your utility bills
    • Has your electricity, water, or natural gas consumption changed over time?
    • One way to determine how energy use has changed over time is to calculate your EUI (energy use intensity)
  1. First gather your utility bills
  2. Determine the area square footage of your building
  3. Convert your total electricity consumption from kilowatt-hours (kWh) to thousand British Thermal Units (kBTU)
  4. Convert your total gas consumption from therms to thousand British Thermal Units (kBTU)
  5. Add electricity and gas together (both in kBTU) and then divide by your building's square footage
  6. You can use the EUI number to compare your building to others and also compare your own building to itself each month
  7. You should see the EUI increase in summer (more cooling) and winter (more heating) but decrease in swing months where the weather is more comfortable
  8. You can also determine the EUI for a year instead of each month, this is a greater average and should change less from year to year


  • Lighting
    • Lighting is consistently the biggest source of energy consumption, approx. 40% in most buildings
    • What do you currently have installed?
    • How many lights and where?
    • How are they controlled? Light switches? Motion sensors? A scheduling device somewhere?
    • Do members know how to turn them on and off?
    • If the fixture has multiple lamps/bulbs, could you get by with fewer lamps installed?
  • Heating/Cooling
    • Do you have heat? Is it gas or electric?
    • Do you have cooling?
    • What are your thermostats set at?
    • How often do your fans run?
    • What happens when the space is unoccupied?
    • Are there filters installed in your air conditioner or furnace? How often are they replaced?
  • Building Envelope (walls/windows/roofs)
    • How well do your doors close?
    • Do you have windows?
    • Can you see any daylight around the edges?
    • In winter, do you feel drafts at points along the exterior walls?
    • Do you have an overhead garage door?
    • Are there any openings or cracks in your exterior walls?
    • Are there any holes in your roof or abandoned vents, pipes, ducts?
    • Can you see daylight coming through any openings in the roof?
  • Air Compressor
    • Some spaces have a central air compressor for air tools and other machines
    • Where is your air compressor located?
    • How big is its motor?
    • How often does it run?
    • What air pressure does it supply?
  • Water Heating
    • Do you have a water heater? Is it gas or electric? How big is it?
    • What is the thermostat set to?
  • Water Use
    • Where is your water meter?
    • What plumbing fixtures do you have?
    • How quickly do your toilet(s) refill after flushing?
    • Do you have any sinks?
    • Do you have any hose bibs or faucets, either inside or outside?
    • Are any fixtures leaking? Slow drips, etc.?
    • Does your building have rain gutters? Where does the water drain to?
  • Plug Loads
    • These are appliances and equipment that aren't hard-wired to a circuit breaker and probably aren't considered part of the building itself
    • Computers, TVs, sewing machines, table saws, tools, etc. are all plug loads
    • How many of each type do you have?
    • Do these pieces of equipment get used every day?
    • Are any of them turned off when people leave?


  • From your investigation, what did you find?
  • Pick the changes you want to implement
  • Determine what tools, parts, supplies, etc. you may need
  • Will you do this yourself, with other members, or do you need to hire a contractor?
  • Will this work cause any downtime for other members? Will tools be offline? Doors blocked? Noisy? Dusty?
  • Be sure to keep others in mind, schedule around events and meetings, and notify others early and often before work starts



  • Perform regular maintenance on appliances and equipment
  • Review monthly utility bills and look for any unexpected changes in energy or water usage
  • Review any changes you've made, at least quarterly, to determine if it's satisfactory

Further Reading

members/branth/makerspaceecm.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/24 15:14 by branth