According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR program, U.S. small businesses together spend a whopping $60 billion on energy each year. Additionally, a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that energy costs are a top-three business expense for more than one-third of the nation's small businesses.
But, small businesses also possess significant energy savings potential. Depending on the building and business type, small businesses can reduce their energy without sacrificing service or comfort. Here are some ideas:
1. Conduct an energy audit. SDG&E’s Business Energy Solutions program provides an on-site no-cost energy audit. Learn more at sdge.com/BES.
2. Get employees invested. Saving energy is a team sport, not the sole responsibility of the business owner. Encourage staff to share innovative ideas on how to cut down energy costs – creating an energy efficient work culture.
3. Plant trees. Plant shady trees outside of your business to keep your building cool and help clean the air. Depending on your location, vegetation can help weather the summer heat and chilly winter winds.
4. Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. It's important to locate any leaks in your business to prevent costly heating and cooling loss. You can easily plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking to more efficiently manage your ventilation.
5. Install occupancy sensors. Install dimmers and occupancy sensors in proper locations to automatically turn off lighting. It's important to ensure that the sensors are properly installed. Even good equipment can be installed incorrectly, such as, in an obstructed location (e.g. behind a coat rack, door, bookcase or other furniture).
6. Turn off unused equipment. Office computer monitors are an easy way to save on your business's energy bill as they use a lot of energy. Ensure that monitors are set on automatic sleep mode during non-working hours or are manually turned off when not in use. Screen savers do not reduce energy use by monitors.
7. Reduce paper usage. Paper and printing can be costly for your business. Print only when necessary and double-sided when you do. This will reduce paper waste and help cut the energy required to run your printer, which reduces your energy costs and may extend the life of your printer.
8. Install hand dryers. Install hand dryers instead of using paper towels. As paper towel dispensers need to be refilled, they are a constant, recurring cost and more expensive than automatic hand dryers in the long run. It’s also less mess.
9. Insulate your water heater. If your business's water heater is older than seven years, be sure to wrap it in insulation to retain water heat. Regardless of whether your water heater is old or new, insulate the first three feet of the heated water out pipe.
10. Examine your energy use online. You can track and monitor your business’s energy usage by signing up for My Account at sdge.com/myaccount. Build an energy action plan to help save energy and money.