Small and midsize businesses consume 50 percent of the nation’s energy output, yet most don’t have effective energy reduction measures in place or even know where to start. There are four main areas small businesses should look at when considering ways to reduce energy costs:
1. Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning. Between outdated HVAC units and old, manual thermostats, businesses are literally throwing money out the window. Consider installing energy control solutions such as automated Internet thermostats. These thermostats use your existing network to provide online access, visibility, and control of your HVAC usage. A typical installation can save more than 20 percent in energy consumption annually. Better yet, most businesses realize a return on investment in weeks, not years.
2. Lighting. Interior lighting alone may account for up to 60 percent of a business’s energy bill, yet many companies leave the lights on 24/7. Switch to energy-efficient fluorescent lights that can cut energy usage by 35 percent. In addition, consider lighting controls that use automatic scheduling and remote access to monitor and control usage. Motion and occupancy sensors will shut off the lights after a set period of time if no motion is detected.
3. Business Equipment. U.S. businesses waste $2.8 billion a year by leaving computers on overnight. Consider PCs and monitors with sleep or power-down modes, which reduce electricity use by up to 70 percent. Also, Energy Star-certified business equipment uses about half the energy of standard models.
4. Water. Water is expensive. For just a few hundred dollars, businesses can install low-flow toilets and faucets, and tankless or on-demand water heaters. For restaurants and other businesses that use a lot of water, these simple measures will return significant savings.
According to Energy Star, a 10 percent reduction in energy costs can boost net profit margins by as much as 4 percent. By making one change in each of these high-cost areas, your business will realize measurable energy and cost savings.
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.