Harris County Engineering Department
Facilities & Property Maintenance

Energy Management

“Green” Tips

‘Close the Door’ on Wasted Energy

Don’t let energy savings go out-the-door by leaving exterior doors open for extended periods of time. Doing so allows heated air (in the winter) and cooled air (in the summer) to escape, which in turn negatively effects the buildings mechanical systems, resulting in increased operating costs.

Have you ever wondered why some building entries have revolving doors, double doors, or an air curtain? It is because these design elements minimize conditioned air from escaping and can reduce energy losses by 20%.

» Don’t prop exterior doors open

» Ensure doors close fully behind you as you exit or enter a facility

» Report malfunctioning doors to FPM Customer Service at 713.755.2255

Eliminate Use of Space Heaters

During the upcoming winter months, the temptation to use portable space heaters in your work space is sure to rise, but did you know that doing so is against Harris County Building Regulations Section 8.6. Help Harris County eliminate the use of these heaters which in turn will lower our electricity costs.

Portable space heaters not only raise the electricity cost for Harris County during the winter months, they can trip circuit breakers and pose a major workplace fire safety hazard.

Space heaters are considered ‘energy hogs’ with very good reasons: the smallest electric space heaters can use about 3,000 watts of power; where as a larger electric space heaters may use over 11,000 watts. As a comparison, high performance hair dryers use about 2,000 watts. The Department of Energy and the EPA do not recognize portable heaters as ENERGY STAR rated products further proving their inefficiency. Using space heaters instead of having the Facility’s central heating system temperature adjusted not only increases the overall energy costs for Facilities, it interferes with the central heating systems effective and efficient operation.

As an alternative, please request the temperature settings in your work area be checked and/or adjusted by FPM Building Maintenance Staff by contacting FPM Customer Service through this website, or by calling 713.755.2255.

Trading Light Bulbs for Natural Light

Leverage natural sunlight to our benefit instead of light generated from electricity. Electricity is costly while sunlight is free. Many of Harris County facilities have windows that enable natural light to freely flow into the work space. Natural light not only enhances productivity it also encourages energy conservation for Harris County.

Studies show that “…office worker productivity can increase with the quality of light. Natural light increases attention and alertness during the post-lunch dip and has shown to be helpful in increasing alertness. Lockheed Martin increased engineers’ productivity by 15% by integrating this day lighting/natural lighting concept.”

Conserving Energy In The Office

Do your part to conserve energy by 1) turning off your computer's monitor when leaving work each evening; 2) shutting off your computer when leaving work every Friday; and 3) doing both when you are scheduled to be away from the office for vacation or any other extended period. 

It is estimated by the PC Energy Report that doing so could save $2.8 billion annually in the United States alone. Let's create new energy conscious behaviors that can help Harris County save thousands of dollars while reducing our impact on the environment.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)

The next time you twist out a lamp at the office or at home, "Go Green" and save energy by using Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). These lamps come in a variety of styles and shapes, but are commonly available in a white spiral shaped tube. Although they could cost 3-10 times more than the incandescent bulbs, they require 3-4 times less watts to provide the same amount of light output. CFLs combine the innovative and energy efficiency of fluorescent tube lighting with the convenience and popularity of incandescent.

Use WaterSense Products

Save water, energy, money, and do your part to protect the environment by choosing WaterSense labeled products in your home and business.

WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored partnership program that is geared to protect the future of our nation's water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices. Products that carry the WaterSense label perform well, help save money, and encourage innovative manufacturing.

It is estimated, for example, that a family of four can replace an older toilet with a WaterSense labeled model and will, on average, save more than $90 each year in reduced water utility bills.


With the current drought condition for Harris County in the “severe” index category according to the recently published Palmer Z Index, implementing the seven principles of Xeriscaping will not only conserve water, but also help maintain a healthy landscape for the summer’s hottest months.

Xeriscaping is a method of landscape design that minimizes water use. Depending on soil condition, Xeriscaping can save as much as 60% on water while reducing time and cost to maintain the landscape.

The seven principles of The Xeriscape consist of: 

» Plan and design. Create a simple diagram that shows the elements of your landscape. Once finished, develop a planting plan using indigenous plants that reinforces the areas.

» Improving the soil. Most plants will benefit from the use of compost, which will help the soil retain water. Plants should fit the soil or the soil should be amended to fit the plants.

» Efficient irrigation. Use rotors/spray nozzles that have larger droplets and low angles to avoid wind drift. Drip line and sprayer are most efficient for watering trees, shrubs, and flowers.

» Appropriate plant and zone selection. Group plants with similar light and water requirements, and place them in an area that matches these requirements.

» Mulch. Mulch keeps plant roots cool, prevents soil from crusting, minimizes evaporation and reduces weed growth. Mulches should be applied 2 to 4 inches deep.

» Limiting turf areas. Use the appropriate grass and limit the amount of grass to reduce the watering and maintenance requirements.

» Maintenance. Keep grass height at 3 inches and allow the clippings to fall. Trees, shrubs and perennials will need occasional pruning to remove dead stems.

Visit the DOE website at www.energy.gov for more information on energy saving.