Small businesses can save big money by implementing some very inexpensive and easy-to-execute strategies that will reduce their energy usage and impact on the environment.
Buy in bulk. You pay bulk rate, which is always cheaper; you use less packaging materials, which helps the environment; and you save gas and carbon emissions by cutting down on the number of trips. This is great for purchases of office supplies or kitchen supplies for the staff break room.
Install a programmable thermostat with settings to control the temperature based on time of day and season. No mercury is required for the thermostat, which helps the environment.
Print only when necessary. It takes one gallon of oil to produce one ink cartridge. The average consumer uses 1.5 pounds of paper every day or one ream in just a few weeks.
Use energy-efficient lighting. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) cost more than incandescent bulbs ($.50 vs. $2.50), but save as much as 80 percent of the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
If you are looking to go one step further, light-emitting diode (LED) lamps are even more energy-efficient than CFLs and don’t contain mercury; however, they are more expensive and have a longer payback period.
Turn off computers. Powering down all computers each night results in substantial savings when you have more than five computers.
Just instituting these five easy changes can produce a minimum yearly savings of $750.
For more information, check out a great publication, available online, called, “Putting Energy into Profits: ENERGY STAR Small Business Online Guide.” It provides a calculator to calculate your potential savings. It also offers suggestions for energy-efficient upgrades by types of business. For example, it lays out the energy-savings potential for freezers and coolers for food businesses. Visit http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/small_business/sb_guidebook/smallbizguide.pdf
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College works with a range of businesses — from home-based, to e-commerce to large manufacturing firms — providing information relevant to making well-informed business decisions. Contact the SBDC by email at email@example.com or by phone at (315) 498-6070.