FES View: Making Smart Energy Easy

Peter Hawksworth
By Peter Hawksworth on August 20, 2020

5 Features Business Owners Use Daily for Small Business Savings

Every Owner is Looking for Small Business Savings.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, SMB owners were looking for ways to grow their businesses and reduce expenses. With traffic and sales down in many industries, cutting costs has become even more of an imperative. 

Many businesses have had to spend on health-related improvements and invest in new ways of operating. Reducing staff size or work hours has also been a necessary step for many companies -- small and large. 

As we get back to business, saving money remains a top priority. How do you continue to cut and manage costs without hurting customer service or employee morale? Here are five spending areas that you need to look at continuously -- freeing up cash to spend on growth and business-building activities.

We picked these five features because they are among the services you and your team use every day -- and may take for granted. By looking at opportunities within each one, you can easily make changes that could result in thousands of dollars in savings -- year after year.

Heating and Cooling (HVAC)

Keeping temperatures comfortable for employees and visitors is a must for office buildings, retailers, restaurants, schools, and municipal buildings. HVAC systems can also contribute to health and wellness. Clean air and proper ventilation are essential.

The HVAC industry is growing steadily, for both homes and commercial buildings. The Department of Energy (DOE) attributes about 40 percent of a business’ energy costs to heating, cooling, and ventilation. Because 19 percent of total commercial energy costs are related to energy, 7.5 percent of your expenses are associated with HVAC.  

If you’re not ready to switch to an energy-efficient system and install sensors (that automatically adjust temperatures), you can still reduce costs. Motivating employees to do simple things like turn temperatures up or down can save 5 to 15 percent in costs every year. 

Change filters regularly to ensure air quality. Regular maintenance of your system will also save you money in the long-term. 

Lighting

Short-term, you can encourage employees to turn off lights when not in use. But this only puts a small dent in overall lighting expense. Motion sensors are another option to conserve energy use. 

In the long run, a switch to energy-efficient LED lighting can save you up to 60 percent on energy usage. Bulbs and fixtures last longer and are simple to replace. 

Conversion to LED lighting requires no up-front investment, and a lighting-as-a-service (LaaS) subscription plan will enable you to forecast cash flow more accurately. 

Plus, the right lighting contributes to employee productivity, health, and safety. If you operate a retail or restaurant business, lighting can showcase your products and result in higher sales. 

Equipment & Technology

Automation is a must for small businesses today. The right computer and phone equipment and systems, cloud-based tracking and management tools, and even the desks that computer-users sit at each day will impact productivity and reduce energy consumption.

Some distinct steps you can take are:

  • Turning computers off when not in use
  • Swapping-out desktops for laptops, which consume less energy
  • Buying ENERGY STAR equipment
  • Evaluating systems for streamlining workflow

SMBs today spend between $10,000 and $49,000 a year on technology, but more than half believe they aren’t spending enough.  As you embark on your cost-saving audit, take a close look at how computer systems can simplify operations, and reduce costs.

Waste

Paper waste from unnecessary printing (and the cost of ink), poor inventory management, and warehouses storage costs all add up. 

Not only is effective waste management good for your bottom line, but it helps the environment. Look around your workplace and find opportunities to do more with less. The average person produces four pounds of trash each day. The cost of disposing of that garbage can add up.

Here are some other simple tips for “taking out the trash” and building your bottom line.

Food

Employees and management alike look forward to coffee breaks, snacks, and lunch hours. Many companies today subsidize meals and offer food as a perk, although working from home (WFH) has reduced or eliminated that line item.

If your business still requires most of your team to be on-site, look for affordable and healthy options that people will value. Give your team members branded coffee mugs and water bottles to reduce the use of paper and plastic products, buy snacks in bulk (and even consider a buying co-op with other local businesses), and negotiate discounts with food delivery services. Look too at food waste -- a $50 million cost worldwide. Buy just what you need and what your team will eat and drink.

More than half of today’s employees (55 percent) value food as a benefit. Find ways to fill their stomachs without emptying your bank account.

Little Choices Make a Big Difference -- Every Day

Start today by looking around your workplace at each of the five features. Engage your team, embark on an audit, and pick a few steps you can take that will ultimately save you thousands of dollars -- money you can invest in growth and future prosperity. 

We’d like to help you save money. Ask for a free lighting audit today. We’ll even pay for you to convert to LED lighting!

led-lighting-energy-savings-calculator

Published by Peter Hawksworth August 20, 2020
Peter Hawksworth