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Small Business Checklist: Small Business Energy Cost Cutting Ideas
According to the Small Business Association, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and these create two out of three new jobs in the U.S. every year. To recognize that vital role in America’s economic engine, the SBA organizes an annual National Small Business Week, a celebration that includes a series of events in cities around the U.S.
While a week of recognition is great, we know that being a small business owner is a 24/7 job, 365 days a year. We also know that a small business’ fixed costs can play a critical role in managing profits and success. For a small business, energy cost is just one factor when it comes to overhead, but it’s a big one that can affect the bottom line.
ENERGY STAR estimates that America’s small businesses spend more than $60 billion a year on energy. To reduce small business energy cost, the government agency suggests strategies to cut utility expense 10 to 30 percent without sacrificing service, quality, style, or comfort. By putting some of these suggestions into practice, you could see a significant return on the investment into your small business. Cost-cutting ideas can create efficiencies that save you money.
Have you looked at what you’re paying as your small business’ energy cost? If you haven’t looked closely at where and how this money is being spent, now’s the time. Here’s our small business checklist for you to improve your bottom line.
Small Business Checklist: Energy Use
Want to reduce your small business energy cost? Asking some of the following questions can be a good way to start understanding how you’re using energy, which in turn can help provide small business energy cost-cutting ideas.
- Are lights always on in your business?
- How long are the lights on? 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.?
- Is the heat always on during the winter?
- Is the air conditioner always on during the summer?
- Are you doing anything now to eliminate the need for a heater or AC unit?
- What type of atmosphere makes your employees most comfortable?
- Are there options you can provide your employees when you’re moving forward?
- Are the lights turned off at the end of the day?
- Do you have backup security lights?
The questions, of course, are just a first step. Making substantive changes to a small business’ fixed costs requires a long, hard analytical look at the specifics of various bills and productivity patterns. In the meantime, however, making even a few of the following changes can potentially positively impact the bottom line.
Small Business Checklist: Small Business Cost-cutting Ideas
- Go paperless whenever possible. Email memos rather than printing them.
- If you need to print, print on two sides of the paper
- Use recycled paper. Recycle the paper you use.
- Avoid color printing when possible.
- Conserve ink by printing in draft mode when possible.
- Store documents, manuals and other policies online rather than printing.
- Reduce margins on documents so your printer uses less paper.
- Unplug equipment when not in use.
- Recycle your e-waste: mobile phones, computers, printers and other equipment can often be recycled.
- Give your computer a nap: set computers to go to sleep when not in use. Creating short energy breaks can cut energy use by up to 70 percent.
- Buy smaller monitors: You can reduce your monitor’s consumption by up to 30% by using a 2-inch smaller monitor.
- Consider laptops: laptops generally use less energy and are more efficiently made.
Electricity and Lighting
Small changes in lighting and fixtures can make a huge difference in small business energy costs.
- Switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. CFLs cost about 75 percent less to operate, and last about 10 times longer than incandescents.
- Create an after-hours and weekend thermostat setting: If you know employees aren’t going to be in the office, create a setting that conserves more energy during these hours.
- Turn off lights: Ask employees to turn off lights when they leave. Invest in automatic switches in places like the bathroom and supply areas so that they turn on and off whenever someone enters or leaves the room.
- Take advantage of natural lighting: Install windows and skylights so that you can use natural daytime light instead of electrical lighting. Adjust lighting to your actual needs; use free "daylight" during the day.
- Buy ENERGY STAR fixtures: Fixtures with the ENERGY STAR label use at least two-thirds less energy than regular ones.