Business Tips

How Efficient is Your Energy Use?

Businesses can save money on their operating costs and improve their bottom line even in difficult economic times. Improving your energy efficiency will save you money now and in the long run. For a small business with a 5 percent pre-tax profit margin, an annual savings of $600 on energy costs has the same impact on the bottom line as increasing sales by $12,000 annually.

Strategic energy efficiency investments are your hedge against the certainty of higher utility bills that you cannot control. It’s your business decision to weigh your competing needs for capital versus continuing increases in operating costs for energy. Remember – even a longer return-on-investment on energy efficiency results in affordable comfort, and new, more reliable equipment that will pay for itself with energy savings.

A quick way to realize savings of 10% or more—at little or no cost—is to effectively operate and maintain existing systems. You will see a decline in performance without regular maintenance. Tune-up your heating and air conditioning system with an annual maintenance contract. Routine maintenance can reduce facility energy use by two percent. Energy-smart behavior, such as turning off lights when leaving a room and shutting down electronic equipment at night and on weekends, helps reduce energy use. Small behavior changes can have a significant impact. Involve your employees and reward them for their participation. According to EPA’s Energy Star Small Business program, small firms can save between 20% and 30% on their energy bills through off-the-shelf upgrades. Automated controls like occupancy sensors and programmable thermostats ensure reduced energy use in unoccupied offices or infrequently used areas like conference rooms.

To find a list of easy energy savers, do an online search for ―Energy Star Sure Energy Savers. This fact sheet will also link you to information about larger opportunities.Efficient lighting offers significant opportunity for cost savings. Lighting related labor costs accounts for 9% of an average lighting investment and the lighting itself, including lamps and ballasts, just 4%. Energy use accounts for 87% of the cost and has a major impact on operating costs.

Both Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power have programs to help businesses improve their energy use. Ask your utility about their free or inexpensive energy audits and/or rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades.What if you rent? Many small business-owners pay their own utility bills, while others have the cost included in the rent. Either way, all tenants pay for their utilities in one way or another, so everyone can profit from energy efficiency. If you pay your own utilities, investing in energy efficiency upgrades can reduce your monthly utility bills and create a comfortable work environment for you and your employees. If utilities are included in your rent you still have options, many of which cost little or nothing. You may even be able to negotiate a lower rate with your landlord because of your efforts.