Running a business in today’s economy is a huge challenge. Whether it’s a restaurant, retail store, office building or any other type of commercial property, profit margins are being squeezed by factors beyond a business owner’s control. Employee salaries, rent, taxes and insurance keep rising while competition keeps a lid on the prices a business can charge for what it sells.
But there’s one key operating expense where businesses have some control: Energy. By cutting their utility bills through energy efficiency, businesses can increase profit margins and boost their bottom line without having to increase sales or sacrifice the comfort of customers or employees. There are dozens of ways that businesses can save energy, but we’ll focus on five proven methods that are quick, easy and very cost-effective.
- Get audited (but not by the IRS): An energy audit (or energy assessment if you’re nervous about the word “audit”) is the best way to find out how your business can cut its energy bills. A trained professional will examine your business from top to bottom, making recommendations for saving energy and letting you know how quickly your investment in energy efficiency upgrades will be paid back. Many utility or government-sponsored energy efficiency programs offer free or low-cost audits to get you started on the path to energy savings.
- Let There Be (LED) Light: Upgrading your current lighting fixtures to LEDs – short for Light-Emitting Diodes – saves money in two ways. The first is that LEDs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and 30% less electricity than fluorescents. The second is that LEDs can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 3 to 5 times longer than fluorescents.
- Sensors & Sensibility: Occupancy sensors automatically shut lights off or turn them on by detecting if someone is in the room. A U.S. Department of Energy report shows that lighting sensors can achieve energy savings of up to 90% when used in a commercial building’s storage areas, conference rooms, restrooms and break rooms. Commercial buildings with lots of individual rooms – like hotels, college dorms and office buildings – can save even more money on energy by coupling their cooling and heating systems to the occupancy sensors.
- Out With the Old, In With the New: Replacing your business’ old energy-using equipment with new high efficiency models will produce immediate and significant energy savings. Whether it’s your heating, air conditioning, computers, refrigeration or cooking equipment, upgrading to EnergyStar certified appliances will provide a quick return on investment. The payback may be even faster when you factor in rebates offered by your local utility.
- High Maintenance: Not to be confused with the TV series, a high level of maintenance is essential in keeping your energy equipment running smoothly and at maximum efficiency. Air filters on heating and cooling equipment should be cleaned or changed monthly. Regular cleaning is also recommended for your heating and cooling system’s condenser and evaporator coils and heat exchanger surfaces.