Cutting Costs with Energy Efficiency
Reducing energy use won't just help the environment; savings on energy costs go directly to your company's bottom line. According to a variety of studies, most businesses can cut their energy costs by over 10% by taking a few simple, inexpensive steps. If you plan to make significant changes, your local utility companies and even the Environmental Protection Agency may offer incentive programs and grants that make the prospect even more appealing.
The following are just a few ideas for ways your business can save energy and reduce cost:
- Turn off unused or idle equipment. If you like, start small. Turning off a computer at the end of the day could save over $100 in energy costs. Multiply that by the number of computers in your company and the savings could be significant. Make it a point to turn off idle equipment, both during the workday and especially when everyone goes home.
- Turn lights off. The same is true for lighting. Does your warehouse need to stay lit all night if no one will work in that area? Turn off the lights you don't need. If you like, label switches as "Leave on at all times," "Leave on during operating hours," and "Turn off when not in use."
- Switch to energy-efficient lighting. The most efficient light is natural light, so open the blinds and enjoy the sun. Move frequently used workstations to areas where natural light is most available. If you switch to fluorescent bulbs, you can save up to 75% on your energy costs.
- Eliminate leaks and waste. Gas leaks, steam leaks, fluid leaks, etc., all waste supplies and energy. Inspect pipes, ducts, and equipment for leaks and waste. Don't pay for energy that does not reach its intended destination.
- Adjust the thermostat. Comfort is important to employee morale. At the same time, reducing the temperature by one degree won't be noticed by employees but will be noticed on your utility bill, especially if you heat and cool a large space. Turning the thermostat down one degree could result in energy savings between 5 and 10%.
- Get help from the utilities. Many utility companies offer products and services that can cut your use of energy and reduce your expenses. For example, your electric utility may be willing to install a timer on hot water heaters, turning them off during down periods and automatically turning them back on before they are needed again.
- Maintain your equipment. Equipment that is in poor condition often uses more energy. At a minimum make sure you change filters, lubricate on a consistent basis, and perform regular preventive maintenance. Also make sure your heating and cooling equipment is properly serviced. Experts estimate that poorly-maintained heating and air conditioning equipment could cost up to 10% more in energy costs to operate.
- Buy energy efficient equipment. When it's time to make a purchase, don't just focus on getting a good price; also focus on purchasing energy-efficient equipment. The total cost of ownership may be dramatically lower over the long-term, especially if an energy-efficient item will save significant sums every month.
- Reduce printing and copying. Electronic versions of many documents are often just as good and a lot more convenient.
- Reduce travel. Conference calls, web meetings, and virtual meetings don't just save money on energy and travel costs, they can also be a lot more efficient. "Nice to do" travel is prohibitively expensive, so limit your company to "must do" travel.
You can also take advantage of tax incentives by investing in energy saving products and technologies. Talk to your local government offices, utility companies, and other energy professionals to get more energy-saving ideas.