As most small business owners in America know, the daily operational costs of running your own company can quickly add up. In addition to startup costs, marketing expenses and equipment, you still need to be able to keep the lights on at your company in order to keep your business surviving in this market.
In fact, for many energy is one of the biggest expenses of running a small business, as reports claim that 35% of small business owners state that energy is one of their top three single greatest operational costs.
With this is mind, many small business owners find themselves desperate to find new ways to lower their energy costs and keep their overhead low. There are several different approaches that small business owners can take in an effort to cut down on costs, but ultimately, taking a multi-faceted approach and using several of these tips at once is the best plan of attack for keeping energy bills in check.
1. Shop for a new energy plan. Small business owners who live in deregulated states can shop for a new electricity plan in an effort to keep their electricity bills down. There are so many different retailers that offer low-cost plans for their commercial consumers. Typically, the most affordable plans are those that are a standard 12 month plan, yet some companies will offer deals on long-term 24 month plans as well. Many business owners will also find hat the winter and early spring is the best time to shop for a new energy plan and to lock in fixed rates.
Tip for business owners: Locking in a fixed rate makes budgeting for your business? electricity expenses even easier.
2. Invest in new lightbulbs. As a business owner, chances are you know the old adage ?You have to spend money to make money.? One of the best ways to do this in terms of cutting down on energy costs is to replace all of the bulbs within your business. For some business owners, this is a lot of bulbs, but it can add up to a great deal of savings. If you switch from a standard 60 watt bulb to an 18 watt energy efficient bulb you will save around $1.30 each month. If you have 50 light bulbs throughout your business that is $65.00 a month in savings. That is $780 a year off of your energy bill.
3. Make a new closing routine. Most small business owners have a set ?closing? routine in place for their employees. Perhaps it involves taking out the trash, counting the cash register or sweeping the floors. Add a few extra minutes to your routine by going through and shutting down all computers, and unplugging all appliances and electronics that can be unplugged over night. It only takes a few more minutes and anything that is plugged in, whether it is on or not, actually takes up energy when it is attached to an outlet. Think of all of the things in your business that stay plugged in, you could be saving hundreds a year just by taking this small extra step.
4. Hire a professional to seal your building. While some homeowners have started to take a major step towards sealing and weatherstripping their homes, a shockingly large majority of business owners do not take the time to seal their windows and doors. When these doors and windows are not sealed, the air you pay to heat and cool can quickly escape, meaning you have to pay more to keep your property at the right temperature. Even if you have a newer building a great deal of air may be escaping, meaning you have to spend more on both heating and cooling.
Tip for business owners: Air sealing includes insulating the air ducts. It can be a big project, so save yourself the time and hire an HVAC professional to make sure it is done right. This investment will more than pay for itself.
5. Keep your cooling system in check. As a business owner, chances are you know how important it is to keep your place of business comfortable for your customers. This means having an AC unit for the warm summer months. However, today?s air conditioners are as much as 50% less efficient than models made just a few decades ago. If you are using fans to help keep your home cool and well ventilated, consider reducing your fans speeds. If you reduce your fan speeds by just 10% you can end up saving 30% on your energy bill.
6. Start a monthly maintenance plan. Every month you should engage in some routine maintenance around your office, to make sure the building is operating at its most efficient level possible. This involves cleaning all of the filters in your heating and cooling system, cleaning exhaust fan filter and cleaning and maintaining any refrigeration equipment that you have.
7. Consider tax breaks. In 2007, when ?going green? first started to really take, off, several states enacted new laws that would provide tax breaks to businesses who take steps to be more energy efficient. Research the rules in your specific state and consider making these small changes, you may be surprised by the type of returns your company will end up getting when April rolls around.
8. Control your office thermostat. This is one of the most common suggestions for individuals looking to save on energy bills, but it is one that most business owners really don?t consider. Lower your thermostat a few degrees in the winter and raise it a few in the summer. If you change your thermostat by three degree, you can save 9% on your energy bill. Do not worry yourself with the comfort level of your employees or patrons too much, as a single degree or two change is hardly noticeable.
9. Consider allowing workers to telecommute. While not all businesses will be able to do this, there are many small companies that can let their employees work from home or telecommute on certain days or for certain projects. By allowing employees to work outside of the office, think of all you can save on electricity between lights, printers, computers and other expenses. If you can, try to do a once a month special day where multiple people can work from home as part of a ?going green? initiative. This will not only help you save on costs, but most employees will love the opportunity to get to work from home in their sweatpants.
10. Install motion sensors and automatic shut offs on your lights. When you live in a home and are trying to save money on energy, it is far easier to remember to shut off lights behind you. After all, you are the one footing the bill. However, for most employees, its hard to remember to shut off lights, when there is no financial burden hanging over their head.
You can install motion sensors that turn lights off when no one is moving or in the room, or timers that automatically shut off lights in places like bathrooms, after a certain amount of time. Dimmers are also another great addition, so you can control how much light you are actually using in rooms that don?t require all of the lights to be on. These are all great ways to save a little at a time on your energy costs.
Tip for business owners: If you are not confident in your employee?s abilities to turn off lights when they leave your business or a certain room, many automatic switches actually come with coordinating apps. They can let you see if anyone?s in the office and if they left lights on in certain rooms. You can even turn the lights off from your app when you?re not even in the building. Ask your security system about this option.
Being a small business owner will always undoubtedly come with its own challenges and expenses. While there is only so much you can do in order to lower your overhead, saving on your energy bill is a great way to keep these costs more manageable. Consider implementing some of these tips into your business? daily routine and you will see the savings start to roll in.