Small Business Energy

Running a small business can come with a number of challenges and obstacles, but for many keeping track of all of the financial responsibilities is one of the most difficult parts of running any type of business. No matter what the industry an organization may be in, maintaining overhead costs is one of the largest financial obligations. These costs of course include daily operating costs such as energy consumption.

Business owners who know what the biggest energy expenses tend to be for small businesses can make a concerted effort to rely less on these items and to make important changes to their daily operations. Here are the 15 biggest energy expenses for most small businesses today and some insight on how much these things are actually costing your company.

1. Light Bulbs
It should come as no surprise that interior lighting is one of the biggest expenses for small businesses today. The average small business can have as many as 50 light bulbs operating within their facility. If you are still using 60 watt bulbs, that is 3,000 watts of electricity being used per hour. If you replaced every 60 watt bulb with a LED bulb, you would get approximately the same amount of power and only use 475 watts of energy.

If the average small business is open with the lights on for 40 hours a week, this means that replacing 50 bulbs in your office would save 5,252 kWh of energy per year. Considering the average rates in the United States, 1,000 kWh equals about a $100, meaning you could be flushing well over $500 a year down the drain because you?re using the wrong light bulbs.

2. Space Heating
Space heaters are often brought in to small businesses during colder months as many business owners assume they are less expensive than central furnace systems. While central furnace systems may require more upfront costs, space heaters are actually some of the most expensive appliances to run.

If you are running your space heater for eight hours a day during the colder months, you are paying around $36.50 a month for just one space heater. The unfortunate part of this expense is that most offices need several space heaters in order to obtain a comfortable office temperature.

3. Central Cooling Systems
A majority of small businesses today operate with old or outdated HVAC systems. While the approach is understandable, considering the cost of a full HVAC system, even a unit that is only 10 years old can cost a small business more than 20% on their cooling costs. New energy efficient models that replace air conditioners built in the 1970s save business owners, on average, up to 50% on their cooling costs.

4. Desktop Computers
Desktop computers are a standard at many small businesses, whether they are used at desks or as cash registers. However, desktop computers cost a great deal in terms of energy the typical desk top computer can use about 250 watts with a monitor adding another 20 to 40 watts per hour.

If this desktop computer is left on all day and is using 290 watts per hour, that desktop model is using around 2540 kWh a year, or costing your company just about $250 a year just to run your computer if you?re paying 10 cents per kWh.

While your business may not need the portability of a laptop, the average laptop computer uses between 15 and 60 watts, meaning it can lead to significant savings for your business.

5. Security Lighting
Security lighting uses a completely different type of lamp, typically known as HID, or High-Intensity Discharge lights. These provide those much-needed security lights for the exterior of your business. However, these lights can use up to 2,000 watts each. While they only need to be on at night, this still adds up to hundreds of dollars per year, per light. Many times, replacing these lights with a mid-range 360-watt light can still provide you with the security you need without the extra cost.

6. Food Service Equipment
Small businesses who are in the food service industry have a unique challenge when it comes to keeping energy bills low as food service equipment is notoriously expensive to run. Based on the national average utility rates, it costs around $350 per year to run a deep fryer, $115.00 per year for each standard size dishwasher and $798.56 per year for a 6 foot by 8 foot walk-in freezer.

7. Monitors
Whether your monitor is hooked to a computer, used to run advertisements or part of a video system, every monitor in your office is actually a huge energy expense. The average monitor consumes around 100 watts per day. However, if you leave these monitors on at night and on the weekend when your business isn?t open, they can continue to suck up power, consuming around $30 or more of wasted energy per year.

8. Exit Signs
Properly lit exit signs are often a safety necessity in most businesses and while you legally may need to have them in your company, but these safety additions to your business may be costing you a great deal of money. Traditional exit signs use around 40 watts per sign, and need to be on at all times, meaning they can cost 350 kWh per year. Fortunately, there are ENERGY STAR certified exit signs that use as low as 12 watts per sign, saving almost 250 kWh of energy per year.

9. The Break Room Mini Fridge
Most break rooms have a few necessities in them for employees who need to store their food and belongings during the day. However, that mini fridge in the break room, may be costing more than you expect. Even a tiny 4.4 cubic feet refrigerator can cost up to $80 per year to run if it is set on the recommended temperature.

Many times, full size refrigerators that are made with ENERGY STAR regulations use less than these cabinet-sized additions and are well worth the extra expense.

10. Office Copy Machine
Office copy machines are one of the most common appliances found in small businesses today. However these machines use a great deal of energy even when they are in sleep or standby mode. The average copier uses 2400 watts while printing, 310 watts while in standby mode and 200 watts while in sleep mode. This means even when you aren?t using this machine to make copies, the device is still costing your business.