Most small businesses occupy less than 50,000 square feet, but their energy use is roughly 44 percent of all commercial consumption, according to this source. Even tiny steps can save you big money -- short- and long-term.
Look to Energy to Save Cash and Get Money Back Right Now
Start with an energy audit. If you don’t have the internal resources, look to independent consultants or experienced suppliers who offer this service for free. Lighting is one of the easiest and fastest areas of energy use to examine for cost savings and incentives.
State and Local Energy Efficiency Programs
States and regions make funds available to small businesses to encourage them to operate more efficiently and reduce their carbon footprints. The Small Business Administration publishes a guide to these programs at a state-by-state level.
These programs include both grants and loans. A grant is a third party “gift” to help your business become more energy-efficient. A loan ultimately needs to be paid back, but your small business energy savings can more than cover your payments (principal and interest) if managed wisely.
Business Rebates on Qualified Energy Products
Many energy companies offer rebates to small businesses. That means you get cashback virtually immediately for a purchase or energy upgrade. Rebates can be combined with other sources of savings like grants and tax rebates. You can even find specific deals for your industry or type of product.
Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Upgrades
You may be eligible for significant savings on your taxes by making energy-efficiency improvements in your business. Solar power and geothermal systems are just two of the categories that qualify for credits. Consult your financial advisor for how these upgrades can lessen your annual tax burden.
Cash Incentives from Energy Suppliers
This can be your most powerful source of small business energy incentives. Can you imagine a vendor paying you up-front to make a change to a more efficient energy solution? FES is buying back old fixtures from small business customers, putting cash in their pockets almost immediately.
Subscription models are another example of how companies are offering incentives to small businesses to make a switch to more efficient energy solutions. This major disrupter in the energy field gives the business owner a more predictable cash flow. Energy users pay a fixed amount each month rather than paying for usage. This technique has been in use in the home heating/cooling space for years, but is now one of the most popular and economic solutions for small businesses, saving as much as 60% for just lighting alone.
Supplier-backed small business energy incentives can also save you time and expedite upgrades. The company you work with may not only cover the costs of installation and buyback old equipment/lighting but will also manage the entire upgrade process. Although difficult to quantify, the amount of time you can save by working with a trusted advisor and project manager can be significant -- freeing you up to focus on growing your business.
Now is the Time to Take Advantage of Energy Incentives
The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact require small business owners to be more creative than ever in terms of sources for cash benefits and savings. Additionally, the changes you make will contribute to the sustainability of your operation.
Consider some combination of grants and loans (government or supplier-backed), rebates, and supplier-backed incentives. You may unearth thousands of dollars this year and every year. Plus, creating a safer and more sustainable work environment can lead to more business and employee loyalty -- not to mention building your small business’ reputation as an energy-conscious company.
Create your own checklist and action plan for sustainability and you will discover that many steps can save you money, retain talent and customers, contribute to your community, and -- ultimately -- create a healthier and more vibrant planet. Your business after COVID-19 can be one that really makes a difference.
Take advantage of incredible incentives for upgrading your lighting to LED fixtures.