While solar panels and fuel cell energy use can contribute to more efficient business practices, not everyone is able to make such investments in the foreseeable future. Though small businesses may not have infinite funds, the economic stability of the U.S. owes a lot to them.
Over the last decade it was small businesses, not major corporations, who generated 60 - 80 percent of all new jobs each year. Yet they rarely get the breaks allotted to larger companies. But by taking simple measures, small businesses can save money while keeping in ranks with major corporations.
Switching It Up
A simple change in lighting goes a long way and many companies are making the switch from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent light. While some strategies have upfront costs, you’ll waste no time benefiting from their returns.
For example, a company may spend $32,540 installing fluorescent bulbs with electric chokes, metal halide lamps, automatic timers, and lighting transformers – this may sound like an extensive order, but they need only to wait 16 months before seeing a savings of $24,564. Add into that the reduction of GHG emissions – eliminating 565 tons of CO2 a year – and an electrical savings of 63,248 kWh per year.
Going Au Natural
Some companies are beginning to conduct meetings in rooms lit by natural light. Natural light can be let in easily by drawing back curtains and arranging desks so that each gets adequate sunlight exposure.
You may take it a step farther by installing sky roofs or pockets for sunlight to peak through. This works especially well in areas like hallways, where lighting is mostly needed for commute between rooms rather than extensive reading.
Pulling the Plug
Much of a business’s money is spent on wasted energy use. In fact, some pay more running unused devices than when they are actually in use. This is a result of phantom loading and can be remedied by keeping appliances unplugged when no one is using them.
Just by killing phantom load, companies can cut electricity bills in half, if not more. It is also important to keep unused lights and computers turned off. Every year, the U.S. spends 2.8 billion dollars powering computers that are not in use and 5 to 10 billion dollars on unnecessary light.
With that said, we mustn’t forget the simpler appliances that keep employees going.
Rather than keeping coolers running all night, which averages a use of 0.58 kWh of electricity per night, you can install a timer to cut energy use. You simply plug the timer into an outlet and the cooler into the timer, ensuring the cooler runs only at the times you have set. Though the timer uses a small amount of energy itself, using it creates a net savings of about 0.556 kWh per day. This method can be used for coffee machines as well, though some coffee machines come ready made with timers. If yours do, be sure to take advantage.
One way for a business to save on utilities and improve efficiency goes little beyond basic maintenance. In Florida, a ReMax real estate office saved 7,900 dollars in one year by implementing a weatherization program.
Such programs are little hassle and usually consist of simple maintenance practices. In this case, the office cut costs by caulking windows and weather-stripping doors to keep air from escaping and cold air from creeping in. They also switched to more efficient light-bulbs and sealed leaky ducts, both are easy measures that contribute to a 40 plus return on investment.
By applying these and other simple strategies, businesses of any size can reduce costs and gain a competitive edge in a world concerned with climate change.
Climate Capitalism, By L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, Copyright 2011
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