Lowering your energy use is a major opportunity to save some money on expenses.
In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 30% of energy use in buildings is inefficient and unnecessary. That means a lot of businesses could benefit from tightening up their energy use.
So, where do you start? For many businesses, lighting and cooling use the most electricity, but energy use will naturally depend on the nature of the operations. For instance, auto dealers, restaurants and hotels typically use more energy per square foot than an office building will. For a home-based business, the top energy consumers are usually lighting, cooling and computers.
Whether you manage a facility or work out of your home, you can take steps to save energy. Here are a few ideas to consider.
HOW TO LOWER YOUR BUSINESS ENERGY BILL
- Request an energy audit. A professional energy audit gives you a personalized, room-by-room look at ways to save energy. It’s a smart first step before you make any major investments to upgrade your building for efficiency, such as insulation or ventilation. Read more about energy audits from Energy.gov.
To find an audit professional in your area, start by asking your utility provider. Some utility providers provide complimentary on-site energy assessments to commercial customers. Otherwise, they can recommend a trusted professional in your area. Expect to pay around $300 to $800 depending on the services you receive, reports the Residential Energy Services Network.
- Upgrade lighting. Energy.gov reports that energy-efficient light bulbs can use up to 80% less energy and last 25 times longer than their traditional counterparts. Replacing traditional light bulbs with efficient CFL or LED versions can save you $10 to $20 annually, per bulb. Want to see for yourself? Download this interactive light bulb calculator from EnergyStar.gov.
- Invest in window treatments. During cooling season, use blinds, thick curtains, or drapes to keep sunlight out. When you need the heat, let the sun shine in to help warm up the room. Solar screens, awnings, or even planting trees can help control solar heat, too.
- Keep an eye on the thermostat. Keep things a little cooler in the winter and a little warmer in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs. That adds up: The Department of Energy reports that you can save 1% for each degree of thermostat adjustment per 8 hours. Even better? Upgrade to a smart thermostat to take the hassle out of managing things manually.
- Tune up your HVAC system. Get annual inspections to keep your system operating at peak performance. And don’t forget to clean or change your filters every month, especially during peak heating and cooling seasons. A dirty filter overworks your system and costs more to use.
- Use a power strip. Did you know many devices – like that coffee maker in the break room – continue to draw a small amount of energy when they’re plugged in and turned off? Power strips are your friend to help attack these “energy vampires.” Just leave them plugged in but switch off the power strip when they’re not in use.
- Turn off equipment when you’re not using it. Computer monitors are a big culprit here. If you leave them on overnight and on weekends, that can add an extra $30 to your energy bill each year.
- Invest in ENERGY STAR rated equipment. You can trust the ENERGY STAR rating as a credible, unbiased source of performance and energy efficiency. Look for it on appliances, office equipment, ceiling fans, electronics and more. Learn more about ENERGY STAR on their website.
- Get employees on board. Saving energy shouldn’t be a solo effort. Make sure your employees know energy savings are a priority to the business so they know how to help. Don’t forget to ask them for their ideas on ways to save. Even a simple swap – like warmer uniforms for winter so you can lower the thermostat – can help you reach your goals while keeping employees happy, too.