When you own your own business, no matter how large or small, finding new ways to reduce costs or even find new money is a boon. If you’ve cut costs and streamlined your business model until it can be trimmed no further, consider adding additional revenue via grants.
Grants are payments of non-repayable cash or sometimes products in exchange for qualification for certain circumstances or actions. Often, they are granted by government bodies or large corporations, usually to encourage beneficial behaviors. In this case, we’re talking about energy efficiency grants for small businesses.
That’s right; someone is willing to hand over cash to your business for simply using LED lighting, solar panels, energy efficient appliances and insulation, and more. You might have been using these products already!
How to Find Small Business Grants for Energy Efficiency
If you’re not already familiar with specific opportunities for grants, then the prospect of finding the right funding opportunity for you and your business might feel overwhelming. If you can find the grant for you, then the little bit of work is worth it.
As we mentioned above, grants come from several sources like:
- government organizations (including state, local, and federal)
- educational institutions
- other groups or individuals with funds to spare.
Utility companies often offer incentives to reduce consumption and instill energy saving measures, for example.
It is advisable to search through both state and federal resources to find as many opportunities as possible to apply towards your business. You might come across other helpful programs to help build up your business from losses due to COVID.
State Energy Efficiency Grants
Let’s start with state grants. These offer less competition than federal options and so you’re more likely to qualify; however, they often come with a smaller price tag, too. Do note that some grants require you to match the donor’s contribution. For example, if your state offers you $10,000 you must also front up $10,000. You can search for available opportunities at the state level by searching through your state’s department of commerce website. A grants portal may be available to do this. Both state and federal government grants can be searched through here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers a comprehensive list of state and local government funding opportunities here.
Non-Government Energy Efficiency Grants
Non-government opportunities can be found nearly anywhere. They can be found on organizations websites or even advertisements. Ask around; other business owners are a wealth of knowledge, especially for non-competitive grants. Sending emails to your local government commerce offices or checking out major energy brands can also yield results. And of course, there’s the general internet search. Try to include “small business,” “grant,” and “energy efficiency” in your search bar.
The Alliance to Save Energy is working on creating a small business energy efficiency program to assist small businesses in the wake of COVID and help promote sustainability. You can read about their exciting proposed program here.
If for whatever reason you don’t qualify for a grant because you don’t meet its requirements, the same organization might also offer small business loans or programs at fair interest rates with low qualification thresholds. These are another source of funds if your business is hurting from COVID or other factors.
4 Energy Efficiency Grants for Small Businesses
We’ve found a few energy efficiency grants for small businesses for you to consider Unfortunately, since many grants are location specific you probably won’t be able to utilize some of these (unless you happen to live in Minnesota or Pennsylvania), but they’ll help give you the idea of what kind of qualifications grants require when you apply.
- Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants
This program by the USDA offers both grants and guaranteed loans on a continuous cycle. They offer $20,000 or less. This opportunity is for rural small businesses or agricultural producers to help them make energy efficiency improvements or help improve their existing sustainable equipment. Check out the link for application requirements and other specifications.
- Small Business Advantage Grant (Pennsylvania)
This is an excellent grant example from the state of Pennsylvania. It offers small business owners in PA the opportunity for matching funds for for-profit (no franchises need apply) businesses for up to $7,000 to propose energy saving projects and demonstrate those projects’ success. Their eligible technologies include furnaces, lighting, water heaters, and much more.
Here is an example of a utility company giving back. Based in Minnesota, grant amounts are calculated based on demand and energy saved (kW and Kwh) but cannot exceed $50,000. Like previous examples, it requires a project proposal and proof of installation of energy efficiency products and systems.
If you’re not having any luck finding applicable grants for you, then don’t sweat. There are other opportunities for funding. For example, you simply can’t ignore disaster relief programs, especially now during this pandemic which is making simply operating your business a challenge.
You also shouldn’t forget about small business energy incentives! Incentives include sources like rebates, tax credits, and energy efficiency programs from both government and utility companies. These should require less footwork than grants and be more widely available but may offer fewer funds than a sizable grant—but every little bit helps.
Don't Forget About Energy Rebates
Let’s talk more specifically about energy rebates. These are often very easy to find and in fact your local utility company probably mentions it through ads and on their website. This is because energy efficiency benefits energy suppliers just as much as you, the customer. Less energy consumed means more money in everyone’s pockets. They’re a great way to help your business go green as it incentivizes sustainable practices. Some providers and vendors will offer rebates for switching to energy efficient solutions such as lighting or solar panels.
For a source of rebate funding aside from your local provider, consider Future Energy Solutions who offers methods to save money on energy costs, eliminate lighting maintenance expenses, and help improve the health and safety of both you, your staff, and customers. One way they do this is by offering energy rebates in exchange for you to switch to LED lighting. Touting themselves as your energy partner for life, FES offers zero capital lighting systems, 15-year free maintenance, and will even give you a cash rebate for your old lighting when you switch!