6 Ways to Save on Energy Costs at Your Small Business

Chris Heinz - December 3, 2013

In honor of Small Business Saturday, we are pleased to offer a blog post by small business owner Jake Butler. Butler enjoys discussing topics including green living, small business, and money savings.

If you're running a small business, you know how important saving money is. Some of the more tried and true methods include cutting your real estate costs, office supply expenses, and IT support. One of the less exploited means, however, is reducing your utility bill through energy management.

According to ENERGY STAR, small businesses spend over $60 billion per year on energy, so if reducing that expense is not on your agenda, it should be. Without reducing costs, your business is likely to struggle to maintain healthy and consistent profits.

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Here's how to reduce your energy expenses and improve your overall chances of success, starting today. 

1. Let Your Employees Work From Home 
You may think that telecommuting only benefits staff members and not the overall business, but it can actually have a significant effect on your expenses. By reducing the number of employees that have to show up every day you can decrease PC usage, save on lights and HVAC costs, and reduce dependence on office equipment and break room appliances. 

2. Get a Business Energy Audit
Contact your energy provider and see if it offers business energy audits. Some do so for free, but even if you have to pay a fee, it's still worth the investment for energy efficiency. Schedule an appointment, find out the content of the representative's report, and institute the recommendations. The research and legwork are done for you, and you pocket the savings.

3. Manage Your Thermostat or Install a Programmable One
Either start paying better attention to your thermostat or have a programmable one installed. If your employees take to changing the temperature of their own accord, you might want to install plastic covers so they're not blasting the AC at will. Consider setting it at a temperature that's comfortable for your customers, and always consider setbacks during non-business hours, which can reduce heating/cooling costs by 20 to 30 percent or more.

4. Reduce the Number of Printers
If every PC in your office has a separate printer, you're wasting valuable energy and paying more as a result. Consider installing one printer that's linked to every desktop and you can save significant money on your energy expenses.

5. Turn PCs Off at Night
This may involve a little employee buy-in. It's easy to leave your computer systems on all night so your staff can hit the ground running in the morning, but it's also costly. USA Today reported that this practice resulted in $2.8 billion in wasted money by small businesses each year. Train your staff to turn their computers off, and have the first person who arrives at work each morning click them on. That way, your team can still get off to a quick start every day and you've saved yourself some money (about $26 per computer per year).

6. Start a Recycling Program 
Starting a recycling program is a great way to cut costs as well as help out the environment. Check with your local recycling companies for options. Cut down on the amount of trash your business generates and you might be able to switch to a smaller (and cheaper) dumpster and reduce the number of pick-up days. At the very least, start using both sides of printer paper for all non-essential documents and you can cut your paper costs almost in half.

Final Thoughts
Once your cost-saving measures are in place, track them. Tally up your totals and determine where those extra funds can best benefit your business. It could be to expand your social media marketing strategy, upgrade office equipment, or even bring on additional staff. Saving on energy is important, but directing those savings to where they can do your business the most good is even better.

How do you plan to address energy expenses at your small business?

If you manage multiple buildings, watch this video to save more.

Topics: The Workplace

Chris Heinz

About the Author
Chris Heinz

Chris is Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., which helps organizations get value from their utility bills through energy management software. He's an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a Certified Professional Life Coach. He also started www.Munyay.com to help people love their life and love their work.

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