From marketing to payroll, inventory and taxes, there are many ongoing costs associated with running your small business. However, there’s one cost that many small business owners overlook: utilities.
Ironically, your utility bill is one area with the most potential for cutting costs. How? By following the 20 tips to lower your utility bills below.
Before you tackle the rest of the tips on this list, you need to put a stake in the ground to establish a starting point. The important word here is ‘audit’ and you should run two types.
1. Do Energy Audit
An energy audit is a professional assessment of your current energy use and, ultimately, how you can use energy more efficiently and therefore potentially save money.
At the end of the audit, you’ll have a good sense of where you stand in regards to efficiency and what actions you can take to begin lowering your utility costs.
2. Do Nighttime Audit
This self-run audit aims to discover ways you might be able to reduce your utility bills by decreasing energy usage at night.
Secretly choose a night to run the audit and, after all your employees have left, wait an hour or two to allow any self-managed devices to shut down (a good time for dinner, perhaps?).
Then, walk the office to see if any of the running machines and lights are needed overnight. If not, there are some energy-saving tips below to ensure that they get turned off every evening.
Once you’ve run the audits above, you’ll have some idea of where to take action. However, there are a number of quick and easy-to-implement tips that can really make a difference.
3. Use Power Save
Whenever possible, use the power save mode on your computers, monitors and other electronic devices to shut off the power and put the equipment to sleep when not being used.
In addition, remind your employees to turn off all electronics before leaving on vacation or holiday.
4. Use Natural Daylight
Whenever possible, encourage employees to use natural daylight instead of powered lighting.
5. Take Stairs
Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator both saves energy and increases you and your employees’ health.
6. Clear Vents
When paper or furniture covers your office’s air uptake vents, it takes a lot more power to move the hot or cold air through your space.
Keep the spaces in front of your vents clear and run regular inspections to ensure they stay that way.
7. Fix Air Leaks
One sure way to decrease your utility bill is to fix air leaks around your office’s doors and windows. There are a number of hacks for detecting air leaks, and once you find one, close it up.
8. Close Outside Doors
Believe it or not, a lot of money flows out the open doors at the front or back of small businesses. When one of your outside doors, or windows, is left open, you’re stuck with the cost of trying to heat or cool the entire outdoors.
When heating or cooling your office, make sure those spots are shut tightly.
9. Use Power Strips
Power strip technology has come a long way and the latest versions have ‘always on’ outlets that ensure key devices are up and running.
The other outlets manage your electronics much the same way as power save mode: when the device is not in use, it’s shut down or put to sleep until needed.
While these tips are straightforward, they may take a bit more time, or cost a bit more money, than the ones above.
10. Use Programmable Thermostat
If your current thermostat only allows you to set a temperature and leave it there, it’s time to give it the old ‘heave-ho’.
A programmable thermostat enables you to set different temperatures for evenings and weekends, both of which may help reduce your utility bill.
11. Replace Light Bulbs
If you’re using the same types of lightbulbs you used 10 years ago, you should replace them with energy-efficient ones. There are many options available and, despite the upfront costs, this change can have a big impact.
12. Use Motion Detectors
Motion detectors can be used to turn lights on and off when people enter or leave an area. By shutting down lights when there’s no need for them to be on, you’re cutting down on energy use.
13. Wear Shades
When your office windows have shades, you can close them to block the cold in the winter and to block the hot sun during the summer.
14. Seek Equipment Discounts
If you have newer office equipment, it’s likely it is energy efficient. A simple inquiry to your energy provider and/or utility may help you lower your bill if they offer discounts for efficient equipment use.
While these tips may help you gain control of your bill, they may also be costly to implement. A long-term approach works best in this case, as it spreads the expense over time.
15. Use Laptops
Laptop computers use less energy than desktops, which means they’re cheaper to use. If you can’t afford to replace all your computers at once, do it one-by-one as you retire each machine.
16. Use Cloud Computing
A computer room is expensive. Not only do you have to power the servers, the room needs to be kept cool as well.
Moving your operations to the cloud eliminates these overhead costs while also freeing you from having to hire on-site IT staff or consultants.
17. Upgrade Devices
Every time you retire an electronic device, you should replace it with a more energy-efficient option. Not only will this save energy, it may also make you eligible for discounts.
These last three tips address actions you can take on an ongoing basis to reduce your energy usage.
18. Maintain Equipment
Schedule regular maintenance for your heating and cooling equipment to ensure they run at maximum efficiency.
19. Change Filters
If your heating or cooling equipment uses air filters, change them regularly to prevent blockages that can lead to higher energy use.
20. Change Thermostat
As the seasons change, adjust the programming on your thermostat to manage times when it’s hotter or colder outside.
Utility Bill Photo via Shutterstock