Unless you enjoy working by candlelight on a manual typewriter, the power bill is a necessary evil for your small business. It’s also one of the last areas business owners consider when it comes to reducing expenses—but it should be at the top of the list.
There are plenty of ways you can save big on your energy costs, while helping the environment at the same time. From small changes in your habits to investments that pay for themselves, here are some great energy-saving tips for your business.
Your Green Office
Let There Be Light (Sometimes)
It’s easy to overlook the lights in your business. You turn them on when it’s dark, or simply out of habit at the beginning of the day and (hopefully) turn them off when you leave. But if you make a conscious effort to control excessive light use, you can save quite a bit on your energy bill. Here’s how.
Inexpensive and Free:
- Turn off lights in any room that isn’t in use—and remind employees to do the same.
- Use “free” light by opening curtains and blinds whenever the sun is shining, and turning off the bulbs.
- Be aware of over-lighting. Just as insufficient light causes problems, too much light can lead to glare, eye strain and headaches.
- Replace incandescent (standard) light bulbs with energy-saving compact florescent lamps (CFLs), which not only use less energy, but also last 10 times longer before burning out.
Energy-Saving Lighting Investments:
- Replace lighting fixtures with newer, energy-efficient models.
- If you have exit signs in your business, upgrade to Energy Star qualified LED signs.
- Install occupancy sensors in bathrooms, conference rooms, and other areas that aren’t used continually to automatically turn lights on when people enter, and off when they leave.
- Use photocells or timers to control outdoor lighting.
Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs
When you’re dealing with Mother Nature’s mood swings all year, you need a way to control the temperature inside your business. Heating and air conditioning often represent the biggest chunk of money on your electric bill, but there are ways to reduce the burden and still keep things comfortable inside. Here’s how.
- Keep curtains and blinds open at windows that face the sun when it’s cold. This contributes solar heat to your interior, and reduces the operating burden on your heating system.
- In the winter, use fans to pull warmer air down from the ceilings.
- Lower the thermostat when you leave for the day. A drop of just 5 degrees for 8 hours or more can save up to 10 percent of your heating costs.
- Get a bi-annual “tune-up” for your HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) system, at the beginning of heating and cooling season.
- Close curtains and blinds, or use solar screens or solar film, to block direct sunlight from entering your building on warm days.
- Use fans to keep things cooler and reduce or delay the use of air conditioning.
- Keep external doors closed when your A/C is in use.
Things That Plug In
Computers, equipment, and appliances seem to run on money instead of power. Fortunately, this is also one of the biggest areas you can save energy costs in. Here’s how.
- When computers are not in use, set them to kick over to sleep mode, or turn off the monitors manually. Screen savers do not actually reduce a monitor’s energy use.
- Unplug computers, laptops, and other office equipment at the end of the day, or use power strips and turn them off. Electronics continue to draw power as long as they’re plugged in, even when they’re off.
- Battery chargers also continually draw power when they’re plugged in, so unplug them when batteries are fully charged, or when they’re not in use.
- Whenever possible, replace electronic equipment and office appliances with Energy Star qualified products for maximum energy efficiency.
How do you conserve energy in your small business?
Green Office Concept Photo via Shutterstock