Hospitals hum with energy from nurses, doctors and a cast of support staff who provide care and treatment to help the sick heal.

Healthcare professionals rely on their skills as well as facilities and equipment to provide care, all of which requires dependable sources of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, healthcare facilities consume close to 10 percent of the total energy used in commercial buildings in the United States.  A cost the federal government estimates to be more than $8 billion a year.

For hospitals, keeping energy costs affordable helps keep healthcare affordable.

Hospitals have to balance their revenues and expenses the same as any other business. A quick glance by theHouston Chronicle shows that hospital expense sheets include:

  • Insurance
  • Tests
  • Labor
  • Medication
  • Research
  • Supplies
  • Training
  • Liability costs
  • Equipment
  • Capital Expenses

And let’s hope they do. Here’s why: Just looking at that list, the last thing that hospitals need to worry about is how much it takes to power their facilities and state-of-the-art equipment – but they do, according to a 2013 analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy. This analysis lists a variety of ways health care facility decision-makers can make and implement energy improvement projects in their facilities.

  1. The energy-use intensity of hospitals is nearly three times that of a typical office building
    Patient care is energy intensive. Caring for patients requires energy twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Compare this to the energy needed to run an office or a home, then consider how low energy costs can help hospitals save money. Any changes to regulations governing electricity generation will have a disproportionate effect on hospitals because they are power dependent. The more power costs go up, the more the cost to the patient goes up.
  2. Turning off the lights (or the heart monitor) isn’t an option
    Sound efficiency measures can help hospitals save money, savings that could apply to patient care. However, hospitals are much more limited when it comes to energy conservation. Hospitals need consistent access to power (and back-up power) to operate life-saving equipment and to maintain safe, well-lit and comfortable facilities. Any threats to the reliability of electricity – whether from misguided regulations or grid insecurity – directly threaten the health of our healthcare.
  1. U.S. health care facilities spend $8.8 billion per year on energy
    The U.S. Department of Energy contends the average hospital can cut their energy budget by almost a third saving over a billion dollars per year! Being smart about American energy consumption and energy production stands to improve the healthcare industry’s ability to budget funds in a more useful and important manner. One penny not spent on paying for power is a penny that can be spent on patient care.
  1. Lower energy costs free up funding to improve healthcare services
    As in almost all other areas of our economy, consistent and low energy costs, readily available through an “all of the above energy plan”, is critical to the growth and improved functioning of businesses in America. From the mom and pop dry cleaners on your neighborhood corner to giant industries such as American Healthcare, energy costs determine how funds are allocated in our economy. Hospitals care about energy, and you should too, because lower costs mean a greater ability to focus on your wellbeing.