Rising electricity costs are a significant concern for many businesses today. High energy bills can eat into profits and hinder growth. At the same time, there is increasing pressure on companies to operate more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprint.
The good news is that with some strategic planning and smart investments, businesses can tackle high electricity expenses and become more environmentally friendly. This article outlines key steps businesses can take to cut energy costs and adopt greener practices.
Conduct an Energy Audit
The first step is to carry out a detailed energy audit to provide visibility into how much electricity your business uses and where it is consumed.
A professional audit will identify major energy users like lighting, HVAC systems, machinery, etc., identify areas of energy waste and inefficiency, provide benchmark data to measure improvements and recommend energy-saving opportunities and ROI projections for upgrades.
Upgrade to Efficient Equipment
Once the audit pinpoints energy consumers, it’s time to upgrade to high-efficiency equipment. Some high-impact upgrades include:
Replacing incandescent and CFL bulbs with LEDs can reduce lighting electricity use by 50-70%. LEDs last longer too. You can also install lighting controls like occupancy sensors in low traffic areas.
Improving insulation, sealing duct leaks, and upgrading to ENERGY STAR certified HVAC units can deliver major efficiency gains.
Again choose ENERGY STAR rated computers, printers, and other devices and enable power management features to reduce idle energy draw.
Smart plug strips
These shut off power to idle devices, preventing phantom loads. Use them for your chargers, printers, radios, and other plug-in equipment.
Work With an Energy Consultant
You can also consider partnering with an energy consultant or project developer to identify and implement cost-saving initiatives. Consultants provide unbiased expertise, manage technical complexity, and maximize available incentives. Some of the services they offer are:
- Feasibility studies to determine which projects deliver the best ROI
- Designing and managing upgrades end-to-end
- Onsite power generation
- Sourcing electricity from cost-effective third party commercial electricity providers
- Continuously monitoring usage and savings opportunities
Switch to Renewable Energy
Transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar or wind can be another high-impact sustainability strategy. A few notable renewable energy options include:
On-site power generation
Installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other generators on-site will enable your business to produce its own clean electricity. Any excess power can even be sold back to the grid.
Power purchase agreements (PPAs)
Enter into a long-term contract to purchase renewable electricity from an offsite facility at a fixed rate. This provides cost certainty without upfront capital.
Renewable energy credits
Each REC represents 1 megawatt-hour of renewable electricity. Buying RECs can help to drive the renewable energy market.
Adopt Energy Efficient Practices
Equipment upgrades and renewables adoption offer an ideal way to save on electricity costs but can require major capital outlays. If this is not within reach, we recommend taking low-cost measures like the following to help maximize savings:
- Switch off lights, computers, printers and other equipment when not in use
- Lower heating/cooling temperatures when facilities are unoccupied
- Enable power management features on electronics to reduce idle power draw
- Unplug phone chargers, fans, coffee makers and other “energy vampires” when not in use
- Open blinds on sunny winter days to utilize natural daylight and warmth
- Close blinds on summer days to reduce heat gain
- Keep windows and doors closed when HVAC is on
- Service equipment regularly to keep operating efficiently
- Educate staff on energy efficiency practices and incentivize participation
These small daily actions can help reduce waste add up while also promoting an energy efficiency culture at your company.
Invest in Advanced Energy Management Systems
Advanced energy management systems provide real-time analytics on energy use which enables better optimization, control, and planning. Some of the key technologies you might want to explore include:
Energy management software
These analytics platforms help you track real-time energy use, costs, and identify savings opportunities. Advanced systems even learn usage patterns and make adjustments.
These provide granular data on consumption by energy source. Some meters even send automatic alerts for spikes and can use data collected to tweak operations.
Automated sensors monitor occupancy, daylight, temperature, noise and more. Any data collected then helps facilities management systems adjust lighting, HVAC and other systems to maintain efficiency and comfort.
Tackling high electricity costs requires a strategic approach that takes into consideration technological upgrades, efficiency best practices, demand management and sourcing renewables.
The ideas we’ve covered in this guide will help put any business on the path toward lower energy bills and enhanced sustainability. While upfront investment is required, the long-term savings and environmental benefits are well worth it. Plus, greening your operations improves public image and helps attract conscientious investors, customers and talent. By being proactive now, your business can gain that competitive edge while also helping protect the planet.
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