How To Reduce Energy Costs For Small & Large Businesses

The United States Small Business Administration estimates that 40% of business expenses can be attributed to energy costs. As a business owner, you are concerned with your P&L and finding ways to reduce costs is a constant pursuit. Energy and utility costs are an expense item that can be reduced if you can implement some of these simple tips. Educating your employees on energy saving techniques, implementing the latest technologies, and making use of free services offered by your utility company are sure-fire ways to reduce your consumption of electricity, lower your costs and increase your bottom line.

1. Pay Attention To Your Equipment

All equipment such as computers, printers, lighting and other energy depleting devices should be Energy Star rated which means they have been deemed energy efficient. All eligible equipment should be set to sleep mode at the end of business hours or plugged into power strips and turned off completely with the switch of a button. Installing smart thermostats, which can be controlled through an app on your phone, and LED lighting will substantially reduce costs. In areas less frequently used such as bathrooms, kitchens, and conference rooms consider installing motion sensors which provide light only when in use. Subscribing to a regular maintenance plan with your HVAC company will ensure peak performance in both the summer and winter months.

2. Educate Your Employees

Your employees can help tremendously in monitoring and reducing energy usage with the promotion of simple energy saving practices. Turning off all lighting when leaving a room or the building after work hours is a basic expectation. Letting in the warmth of the sun by opening window shades on sunny winter days is also an effective strategy to reduce electric consumption. Another useful suggestion is to assign one employee to lead the crusade to reduce energy costs by encouraging others to unplug cell phone chargers when not in use or unplug the communal coffee pot at the end of the day. These seemingly simple efforts pay off over the long haul.

3. Pay Less For Electricity

In an attempt to eliminate energy monopolies many states have deregulated their energy markets. If your business is located in a state where energy deregulation exists you have the opportunity to shop for an energy provider who may be offering electric rates that are lower than your local utility. The process to switch suppliers is simple and the savings have the potential to be impressive.

4. Take a Peek at Your Peak Demand

Peak energy demand charges occur when your business uses the most electricity. These spikes in electric usage influences the amount of money your utility charges you per kilowatt hour. To effectively level out your usage and thus lower the amount you are being charged you have several options. First, you can stagger start times for employees and stretch out work hours over a longer period of time. Also, scheduling the run time of demanding energy equipment to off hours will help. Many companies are electing to supplement the traditional electricity source with a generator thus controlling spikes in usage off the electric grid.

5. Take Advantage of Free Energy Audits

Free audits are offered through your utility. A trained and licensed inspector will physically evaluate your business looking at energy leaks, inefficient lighting, insufficient equipment and suggesting ways to upgrade your business practices. They will compare your energy usage to other businesses in your area to determine the efficiency of your office building. Following the evaluation you will be given a report of your current status and recommendations for improving your energy costs. Some programs such as replacing old lightning with upgraded LED bulbs, or even entering into a demand response program to shave peak kW, can be great ways to save!

6. Consider A Hybrid Energy Contract

In order to reduce energy cost for large businesses, certain customers are able to take advantage of on-peak and off-peak commodity pricing. Since the price of natural gas and electricity largely follows supply and demand economics, rates are typically less expensive during off peak periods. Larger users of energy can reduce business energy costs by locking in one price for on-peak periods, and getting a lower price for off-peak periods. Some large users even elect to float their power or gas rates on the index market during these off-peak hours, rather than pay a premium for a fixed-rate product.

7. In 2023, Use Utility Bill Auditing As A Strategy To Reduce Energy Costs

Utility bill auditors offer something very unique in the marketplace. A utility bill audit consists of a deep dive into your historical and current utility invoices to identify errors, make corrections, and even find refunds. Some utility bill audits can result in substantial business energy savings that can be implemented on a permanent basis. For example, in many deregulated energy states, retail energy suppliers will forget to ask for a tax exemption certificate from a tax exempt entity. If you have been paying sales taxes to your new supplier for some time, and your business is exempt from the tax, you are entitled to a refund.

8. See If You Qualify For A Cheaper Distribution Rate Schedule

Another way to lower energy costs at your business is to pay less for electricity or natural gas delivery. If you understand the anatomy of an electric bill, then you know there is a difference between energy supply and energy delivery costs. What most commercial customers don’t know, however, is that the local utility company offers many different delivery cost schedules. In some cases, if your energy usage meets certain requirements, you can qualify for a less expensive rate schedule from the utility. And, switching rate schedules is as simple as contacting the utility and requesting to switch. Hiring an energy broker to do this on your behalf might be a better option since they understand the terminology and requirements needed to get your new rate plan implemented.

9. Consider Alternative Fuels

Another great energy cost reduction tip is to look at your business operation and consider alternative fuels, when applicable. For example, if you are using electricity to heat water and you have the option to switch to natural gas, it could be a more economical solution. In some utility territories, natural gas is not available due to pipeline restrictions; however, many utility companies are willing to foot the bill to run new gas lines to businesses in order to add new customers. If natural gas is not available at your business, contact your local gas utility company to see if they have any plans to bring gas to your area or programs where they will offer to build gas lines at no cost to you.

10. Hire An Energy Broker In 2023 To Watch The Market

Lately, energy markets have been extremely volatile, and finding a favorable rate for your business has been challenging. Energy brokers understand the driving forces behind energy prices, what makes them go up, and what makes them go down. As a commercial customer, you have the opportunity to lock in a future price for energy when market conditions are favorable. An energy broker can watch the energy futures market on your behalf and notify you when prices are trending downward.

The Bottom Line

There are lots of ways to lower your energy costs in 2023. These are a few great suggestions to get you started and moving toward increased profits and sound energy management. If you are serious about reducing energy costs in a more significant fashion and would like to speak to an expert energy advisor, contact us today. Our team of energy professionals has over 100 years of combined experience helping commercial and industrial clients cut energy expenses.

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