The Ultimate Guide to Energy Efficiency for Small Businesses
It goes without saying that businesses, especially startups or small businesses require a lot of hard work and all kinds of small and big investments (financial, intellectual, etc.). But this shouldn’t draw you back from starting your own business because it’s all about making the right strategic decisions. One such decision is the development and implementation of an energy saving plan.
Businesses spend thousands of dollars on energy bills annually which can even create a budget gap if you don’t have enough financial resources (this can be the case with a lot of small businesses). However, the modern era gives the chance of saving on energy by means of many different technological tricks and eventually, by simply switching to renewable energy sources.
Here is what you will find in this article:
- How Much Do Small Businesses Pay for Energy?
- Improve Your Bottom Line with Our Business Energy Efficiency Tips
- Natural Gas VS Renewable Energy
- Renewable Energy Benefits: Why Go Green?
- Choosing an Energy Supplier
- Why Choose Phoenix?
Small businesses make use of so many different items of technology that require power connection (air conditioners, computers, heaters, hot water, etc.) that saving on energy bills in all possible ways becomes a simple necessity. The amount of money spent on energy varies depending on the location of your business, the size of the building and its needs. We have collected approximate statistics on how much businesses pay for their electricity bills to help you have a more vivid idea on the importance of saving on energy.
How Much Do Small Businesses Pay for Energy?
As stated by the Small Business Association of the US, over half of America’s population either owns or works for a small business. Every small business creates at least 2 out of the three new vacancies in the country on an annual basis. As a small business owner, you surely know that with every new employee your company's energy demands and costs increase. This means that you should have a strategic policy for saving on energy and becoming more energy efficient as your business’ bottom line can be seriously affected by the costs of energy.
According to Energy Star (a US Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program), small businesses pay over $60 billion for energy annually. This is a huge amount of money which can be cut down if businesses make the right investments. The costs can be reduced from 10% to 30% and this will neither affect the quality of your business’ work, nor the performance of the devices and appliances that you are using.
Becoming energy efficient is not a decision that you make only for the sake of your company’s benefits, it also shows your care for the environment and for the earth. Energy efficiency helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are a huge problem in the 21st century, especially if your business is based in New York City. New York has a serious problem with greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings. This means that you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of investing a little in energy efficiency because it is rewarding in a number of ways
Improve Your Bottom Line with Our Business Energy Efficiency Tips
There are a number of low-cost ways to help reduce your energy bills relieving yourself from this financial burden to a certain extent. The good thing is that most of these ways have come out to be very simple and easily applicable. Another advantage of saving energy is that it will get you a better reputation among both your customers and employees. They will highly appreciate your respect and care for the environment. This will increase the chances of them staying loyal to you for a much longer time.
Now that we have discussed all the reasons why you should have your business become more energy efficient, it’s time to look at the ways to reach this goal. Below is a list of various helpful tips on how to save energy for your small business:
Register for Online Billing
By means of online billing, you will be able to see your energy usage history and identify certain patterns which can be improved.
Use of Energy & Its Connection to Historic Structures
Go through the small business energy efficiency tips of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and check the Preservation Green Lab’s Windows report. The information gained from these sources will enable you to understand how historic buildings use energy and how you can follow suit and save as much energy as possible.
Retail Energy Supplier Switching
It’s very beneficial to switch from your utility to a retail energy supplier, especially if your business is situated in a deregulated market. Switching to retail energy supplier will bring your business such benefits as price protection, real cost savings, high-standard customer care services and last but not least, access to the latest technological advancements.
One point to keep in mind regarding this is that you should be careful in the choice of the retail energy supplier. To make the right decision, we recommend you to do some research by visiting the provider websites (look up the pricing, the supplier’s credit rating, customer service, and other relevant details).
Secure Your Business from Energy Fraud
According to the Financial Fraud Research Centre, the US loses nearly $50 billion to scams on an annual basis, a large part of which comprise energy frauds. However, you can avoid these scams by taking the required precautions against them. Make sure you know your energy supplier well enough and never give out personal information if you have doubts about the purpose of their further use.
Go Solar and Use Tax Breaks and Other Relevant Incentives
If you want to essentially reduce your energy costs and your carbon impact on the environment, going solar is the best choice. This will decrease your annual energy bills to the minimum and will not affect your business’ performance in any negative way. Besides, with solar systems, you can make good use of the investment tax credit (ITC) which will let you reduce the cost of the solar panel installation by 30%. The government provides other incentives as well aimed at encouraging those businesses which want to become more environmentally friendly.
Carry out an Energy Audit
Having an energy audit done in your company will help you not only reduce the energy costs, but also increase the comfort of your employees and lengthen the life-span of your equipment.
Understand Your Goals Clearly
When you have a clear image of the situation of energy usage in your company, you should set your energy efficiency goals. This means targeting the focus areas, planning of benchmarking and always keeping an eye on your progress.
Encourage Your Employees to Join the Process
Saving energy is not just your responsibility as the owner of the business, it’s also that of your employees. You should inform them about your goals, about how they can save more energy in the company and also welcome their own ideas regarding energy saving. This should be part of your company’s culture.
Work from Home
If there is a possibility for some of your employees to work from home then use it and allow them to do their job outside your business’ building.
Identify Your Business’ Energy Waste
Having understood the power usage and demands of your business, you will be able to identify where the energy is being wasted and how you can avoid this. In our era, it’s much easier to do this with the help of innovative technologies that will capture the required data in real-time and transfer it to a data analytics platform. Due to such technology, you can learn such details as the quality of performance of your equipment, and the ways it can be improved and made more energy efficient.
Apply for an Energy Advisor
It never hurts to have some professional guidance about energy saving and lowering your utility bills.
Follow Your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) System
The first thing to keep in mind regarding this is the annual update of your maintenance contract with your HVAC contractor. This will ensure a tune-up of your HVAC system before each cooling or heating season which will contribute to the longer life-span and the minimal repair costs of the system. Secondly, clean or change your HVAC filters on a regular basis (especially during the peak of cold or hot seasons). Also, try to control the direct sunlight with blinds thus blocking it from having contact with your facility. Plant trees to keep your building cool with clean air, and use fans to preserve comfortable temperature, humidity and air movement reducing the need for air conditioning.
Other small tips regarding the increase of the efficiency of your business’ HVAC system include the following: plug the leaks with caulks or weatherstripping, control your thermostat (set it higher when cooling and lower when heating), switch to a smart thermostat if you can afford it. The thermostat will be safer with a locking cover which will prevent your employees from tampering with the temperature settings. If possible, turn the air conditioning off during the last hour of the workday.
Seal the Heating and Cooling Ducts
Ducts, if not sealed properly, will consume a lot of energy. The efficiency of your heating and cooling system will be increased highly if you have your ducts sealed and insulated.
Save More on Lighting
Don’t use electric lights when the sun is shining and filling your building with light. Tell your employees to turn the lights and other equipment off in the rooms which are empty or aren’t being used at certain hours of the day. Besides, too much electric light, especially when used during the daytime, can harm your eyes and cause headaches.
Change your light bulbs into more energy- and money-saving ones such as halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These bulbs will consume over 80% less energy and will serve you much longer than the traditional ones. Clean the dusty lamps at least once or twice a year. Install dimmers or occupancy sensors - these will automatically turn off the lighting. And last but not least, make sure you are using energy efficient exit signs.
Don’t Waste Energy on Unused Equipment
Office computers consume a lot of energy that’s why you need to make sure they are always turned off when not in use. Don’t forget to unplug everything during the weekends or at the end of workdays and use power strips to avoid any additional waste. The equipment that remains unplugged when not used creates the so-called “phantom energy” which is an additional waste of money. Also set an automatic sleep mode for your monitors.
Buy Energy Star-Qualified Equipment
Energy Star-checked equipment is an indication that you have purchased the most energy efficient devices. The Energy Star label means that they meet all the energy-efficiency requirements set by the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Switch to Rechargeable Batteries
These are the best and most cost-effective options for devices that require batteries. Rechargeable batteries can be charged, discharged into a load and recharged multiple times. On the contrary, the common disposable or primary batteries are delivered in a fully-charged state and become unusable later.
Decrease the Usage of Paper
Use your printers only when necessary and do the printing on both sides of the paper. This way you’ll decrease not only the paper waste but also the energy consumed by the printer.
Make sure you have your refrigerator cleaned at least twice a year and replace the door gaskets when needed. The refrigerator needs to have enough space for the cold air to circulate and should be installed in a well-ventilated place (no direct sunlight or heating equipment should come close to it). A clean and well-functioning refrigerator will add to the efficiency of your company’s energy. It’d be best to have automatic door-closers and strip curtains on walk-in freezers and coolers.
Don’t ignore the water leakages in your building as it might result in the loss of huge amounts of water and money on a monthly basis. Make sure you use automatic water-saving taps, showerheads and urinals to save more on your water bill. Other things to keep in mind are the insulation of old water heaters, upgrading to the most efficient water heater, and setting up the water temperature at the most optimal level.
Try using laptops for your business as they are much more energy efficient than desktop computers (of course, this doesn’t refer to the cases when your work requires the use of desktop computers).
Recycle everything that can undergo recycling - paper, ink cartridges, computers, phones, containers, etc.
Use Hand Dryers
Paper towels require constant refilling which increases their maintenance costs. Moreover, the energy consumption of paper production also rises, so it’s better to switch to hand dryers.
Compressed Air System
This system should function only when the plant is being used. Smaller air compressor systems are the best for taking care of the minimal needs after the closing time of your business. Clean the system by means of blowers or by simply sweeping with hands. Other efficient tips for your compressed air system are as follows: installation of variable speed drives on compressors, sequencing of multiple compressors via automatic sequencing controls and usage of shut-off timers.
As you can see, having your business become energy efficient is not that hard of a thing - all it takes is following at least half of the above-mentioned tips and you’ll be able to save a huge amount on your energy bills. But some of you may still wonder - is there a way that will ensure a higher level of stability in your business’ energy efficiency? The answer to this is - yes because you always have a choice when it comes to energy. And this choice is switching to alternative sources of energy which are the renewables - solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc.
Natural Gas VS Renewable Energy
Natural gas is one of the traditional types of energy used by the majority of businesses. Though the renewables use the clean sources of nature to create energy and are much more environmentally friendly, not many businesses have been able to switch from the traditional energy types but the good thing is that it’s gradually becoming a popular tendency.
We don’t mean to say that you should put an end to the usage of natural gas. The choice between these two energy types should be made considering your business’ needs and demands. The US has abundant resources of both natural gas and renewable energy sources and sometimes they can even be complementary. Natural gas is a better alternative to coal or oil because it’s much cleaner than these two. Oil and coal leave a larger carbon footprint on earth than natural gas. Besides, natural gas will be able to fill the needs in places where renewable energy sources fall short (though, with the advancements in technology, renewable energy systems are becoming more flexible in terms of adjusting to different weather conditions and almost never fall short in any aspect).
From the above-mentioned points, it becomes obvious that natural gas is going to have a long life ahead and will be used hand-in-hand with the renewables for a while. However, regardless of the information we listed above about natural gas, it's still much better and highly recommended to set up a renewable energy system at your company than a traditional energy source.
It’s also worth mentioning that the costs of renewable energy have been dramatically falling in the last years. Renewable energy is becoming more and more affordable for businesses making it the best solution for entrepreneurs for saving money on energy and becoming energy efficient. The future of renewable energy sources looks highly promising because if the costs keep falling at such a fast pace, soon everyone will be able to afford the joy of going green. Besides, there are different types of renewable energy which means you always have a choice: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectricity, ocean thermal energy, etc.
The list of the benefits of renewable energy has much more to offer than just the fact that you will save money. You help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to the recreation of a cleaner and greener world. Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of renewable energy and how your business can switch to it in the most effective way.
Renewable Energy Benefits: Why Go Green?
Renewable energy has become the target point of most of the world’s developed and developing countries. Nearly 100 countries have made investments or are planning to invest in the development of renewable energy and the US is not an exception. Around 800.000 new jobs have been created due to the growth of the renewable energy business. Solar panels have become especially popular in NYC in recent years and more and more businesses are joining the “go green” campaign. The city’s carbon footprint had a huge part in the overall amount of carbon emissions of the US, that’s why it’s become seriously critical to have New York go green, decrease the amount of pollution and carbon waste.
The following things contribute to the growth of renewable energy sources: the falling costs of renewable energy systems, the innovative technological solutions and the major operation expansion in emerging economies.
Here is how your business will benefit from switching to renewable energy:
Consistent Decrease in the Energy Bills
One of the privileges that renewable energy will give your business is the consistent reduction in the energy bills which means it’s not a one-time process. The costs won’t decrease to a certain amount and stay there, they will keep decreasing more over time. While with a traditional energy source (oil or natural gas) the costs not only would fall but might also rise, hugely harming your bottom line. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on energy bills and see how your competitors are growing and making better investments with that money due to having a renewable energy system.
Build a Well-Deserved Reputation
As a business owner, you should be concerned about your business’ reputation and show your customers, employees, and community that you care about them and that your company is being led by a customer-oriented policy. Your smart business decisions are what will make people trust your company and believe that their interests are your number one priority. Going green would be one of these strategic business decisions.
First of all, it’s an environmentally friendly decision. Don’t think that in a world where climate change is taking over as a result of the harmful activities of humanity, your little investment will not make a change. If every small business owner use renewable energy, imagine how much the number of carbon emissions would be reduced and how huge of a positive impact it would have on our planet.
Seeing that you have switched to a renewable energy source, people will understand that you care about their well-being as well as about having cleaner and greener earth. Your customers and employees will highly appreciate your respect not only for the environment but also for others around you. Besides, the probability that you will have more loyal employees will highly increase. Many customers will choose you over a competitor, only because they’ll see that you care and want to contribute to having a better world. This will raise your chances of getting more sales and increasing your revenue.
Creation of Jobs and Economy Growth
With the growth of the economy, businesses also thrive and develop, so why not contribute to it yourself? By investing in renewable energy and having a solar panel or a wind power system installed in your building, you will indirectly create new jobs and boost the renewable energy business. Where there is demand, there will be supply!
Close to No Service Disruption
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), customers experienced about 1.3 power outages on average. The power outages lasted for hours which is highly inefficient for businesses. Electricity and energy are very important factors for every company, especially those that focus on the IT field and need to have constant access to computers. This is why you don’t want to miss any important call or virtual meeting because of a power outage or any other such disruption. Missing a conversation with a client or a partner can have serious consequences and result in a money loss or even in the loss of the client (some clients can be very demanding and scrupulous). The chances that you will have power disruptions with renewable energy are extremely low.
There is a myth that in case of bad weather, renewable energy, e.g., solar panels, won’t be able to function properly but this is completely false. Renewable energy is much more stable and is distributed more easily than traditional energy sources. In fact, the probability that there will be a power outage in bad weather is much higher in case of the traditional fossil fuels than with renewable energy sources. E.g., if you are using wind power, when one of the windmills fails, the others will keep functioning and won’t cause any disruptions. You will notice the tangible privilege of this when your competitors lose lots of business opportunities because of a power outage while you have your business going ahead!
Huge Return on Investment
The ROI (return on investment) of your business is of crucial importance. Renewable energy systems will help your business not only save an essential amount of money on energy but also gain a powerful ROI in a few years. This means that, as an addition to the rest of its benefits and advantages, your present investment in renewable energy and going green will soon pay you back with a good ROI and help your business’ bottom line. Besides saving on energy bills, your business will also save on maintenance fees and repairs (as renewable energy systems require very little maintenance, just a little cleaning once or twice a year and hardly ever break down) and add more to your budget.
Doesn’t it sound good to know that you will have your own contribution to having greener earth and reduced carbon emissions? Switching to a renewable energy source, you will not only reduce your carbon footprint making the air and the environment around you cleaner but will also be able to slow down global warming. The latter is causing more and more damages every day, but people don’t realize the seriousness of the issue until it reaches their doorstep.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to use however little authority you have to encourage those around you (employees, community members, etc.) to invest in the conservation and cleaning of the planet in all possible ways. This can be done by simply being an example yourself and having your business go green so that others follow suit. Though some processes of the installation, manufacturing and maintenance of renewable energy systems might add to global warming in one way or another, the damage will still be extremely low. Several types of renewable energy don’t even generate any global warming emissions. Do your part in making the planet a better place for humanity!
Better Marketing Strategies
Businesses need to work hard and invest a lot of efforts in order to be able to stand out in the highly competitive market of their industry. Experimenting and trying to implement different marketing solutions can be highly effective for your business. If your business uses a renewable energy system, you can take it as an advantage and apply some marketing strategies. People, especially millennials are now making their purchases more consciously by paying attention to every detail. They will surely prefer your business over others if you switch to renewable energy. Over time, as they get older and make up the larger part of your target audience and the overall buying population, you will be able to create specific marketing strategies directed at them. For many young people, the fact that your business cares for the environment and uses a renewable energy source would be enough for choosing your services.
Choosing an Energy Supplier
Now that you know about all the benefits of renewable energy for your business and understand the importance of going green, the final decision regarding it is utterly easy to make. So, when you are ready to install a renewable energy system in your business’ building, the first step is the choice of the energy service company (ESCO). It’s no news that in the US, due to the energy deregulation, you are free to choose any energy supplier company you want. This enables you to select the company the services of which meet your expectations and the demands of your business. An energy supplier will not only help you with the renewables but also with the traditional energy sources. So, choose the one that offers the services that you need.
There are several important factors which you should take into consideration when choosing an energy supplier:
Your Energy Consumption: First of all, you need to know the amount of energy your business consumes so that the energy supplier is able to plan everything accordingly. Calculate your annual energy expenses, try to understand the details related to the energy demands of your company so as to be able to provide the energy provider with the required information.
Energy Suppliers in Your Area: Find out the companies that provide energy supplying services in your area. Make a list of all the suppliers then start investigating their services.
Energy Supplier Reputation: Considering the huge amount of energy suppliers, you might find it hard to tell the good ones from the low-quality ones. You need to be careful with those suppliers who offer super-low rates which will unexpectedly increase in a couple of months. Stay away from shady companies. You can learn about a company’s reputation by doing quick research and looking through the reviews of their previous clients. Also, consider comparing the strategies and services offered by different energy suppliers so as to know the common patterns.
Rates: You also need to understand the amount of money you are willing to invest in the services of an energy supplier. Some suppliers offer fixed rates, others - variable, there are companies that offer both options, which means you should choose the type of rate that meets your company’s needs the best.
Why Choose Phoenix?
If your business is based in New York City and you have decided to go green, then Phoenix Energy Group would be the best energy supplier company you could think of. Our company provides a 100% renewable electricity service to its customers with flexible and high-quality conditions and affordable prices.
Our services are available for the following utilities:
The contract plans offered by Phoenix Energy are mutually beneficial for both sides:
Market Capped Rates: The length of the contract for this plan is 12 months and in case of cancelling early, you won’t be charged anything. The plan includes the following points: affordable monthly rates, capped rates against market volatility, no changes in the cap throughout the whole contract time. This plan version is highly recommended and very popular. In order to cancel the plan, you are required to send us the notice 60 days before.
Fixed Rates: A 12-month plan during which the rate doesn’t change. The cancellation should again be done with a notice 60 days before the termination of the contract. You won’t be charged anything for this.
Variable Rates: In case of this plan the rates change and the contract is renewed on a monthly basis. A 60 days notice is required if you want to cancel the contract. Again, there will be no cancellation fee.
Choosing Phoenix as your energy supplier, you will get the following services:
Provision of high-standard solar and wind power services
Quality management of your business’ energy rates
Support in complying with the energy laws of NYC
Achievement of energy efficiency
Easy access to state incentives for subsidizing the energy costs (the costs of many energy efficiency projects that are aimed at small businesses can be reduced by over 50%)
We make sure that we have insights into your business and its energy needs so as to help you make the right decision. We help you promote your business for choosing a renewable energy source and going green by signing you up for the EPA and putting up Window Decal providing social media posts for increasing and engaging more followers. Our team will provide your business with a 24-month review of your energy costs for billing accuracy and will also research the energy consumption patterns. We will ensure competitive energy supply rates which are protected against high seasonal months. Our team of professionals will find the billing errors, point out the opportunities for energy efficiency and reduce the peak demand.
Trust the process of your business becoming energy efficient to Phoenix Energy and release yourself from a number of troublesome tasks regarding the overall process of renewable energy system installations and other relevant operations. With Phoenix, you will be able to focus on the more important aspects of your business while enjoying the benefits that renewable energy brings with itself.