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It’s the beginning of summer and you just opened your first electricity bill of the season. And if you’re like us, it did not usher in a season of joy. And if you’re even more like us, you’re looking around for someone to blame.
In most cases, there is not a “who” to blame for your skyrocketing energy bill. It’s more likely a “what” to blame – think A/C unit, thermostat, computers, servers, and let’s not forget about those fantastically bright fluorescent lights.
So let’s tackle the “what” to blame so we can get on with implementing some better solutions. After all, summer is here and you’re spending extra dollars on energy just reading this thought provoking and informative blog article.
For a typical office building, nearly 20% of annual costs can be attributed to energy usage. The biggest culprits are probably your A/C unit, those old T13 florescent lights, technology, and outlets.
During the summer months, about 20% of energy costs for your business can be attributed to cooling the office. When it’s 90 degrees outside, we know that you are more than thankful that it’s a cool 71 degrees inside. And that frisky air temperature also keeps you going as you crank out a 400 word blog article. Yet, let’s take a few steps to minimize the costs of surviving the coming heat wave. First, let’s get a digital thermostat and program it. And don’t put a big sign on that says, “don’t touch the thermostat.” Let’s face it, you may be the big boss, yet no one is going to pay attention to that sign after they made a quick run to the taco truck for jalapeno laced burrito special. Your program needs to be consistent through the day to keep up with the rising afternoon heat and then take it down a few notches when you close shop for the day. No sense in keeping the file cabinets cool at 3am. During the day, keep the thermostat at a consistent temperature, use window blinds strategically to block the sun, and even consider ceiling fans (depending on your type of business.). And finally, work with an A/C system specialist to make sure that your zones are set up for your work space and operations. You don’t really need to keep the storage rooms at 68 all day.
The day-to-day solutions are seemingly common sense…yet we talk to customers all the time who know they need to do it and just don’t get around to it. Well, what if I told you that it’s the same as throwing $200 out the window. You wouldn’t do that so don’t let the A/C do it for you. Put 2 hours on your calendar tomorrow and make it happen.
Now let’s take a look at the long-term solutions.
If you own your business and you own the building, then it makes sense to hire a professional for a complete energy audit – we’re talking a complete inspection of the insulation, windows, and doors. It’s another thing that I know you don’t have time to do yet take my word for it. It’s worth it in the long run to make a few improvements now to save your business some bucks later.
When it comes to offices, the biggest line item on your electric bill is office lighting. I know, I know. You can’t work in the dark. So consider switching to light emitting diode (LED) lights to reduce costs. They offer a longer life and reduced energy consumption. If your office uses florescent lights rather than regular bulbs, you may be able upgrade T13 florescent lights to the more energy-efficient T8 bulbs. T8 bulbs alone can reduce energy consumption by 35%. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And let’s examine employee behavior and needs. Most of all stare into a screen all day and could use a little help on the eyeballs. Let’s dim those lights above us by about 40%. At the end of the day, your eyes will thank you. And at the end of the month, you will thank yourself for saving a few dollars on the electric bill.
The next requirement is to review your technology needs. Between computers and servers well, let’s face it, you’re keeping the energy companies in business. So we recommend a nap. For your computers. Encourage your employees to hibernate their computers when not in use. And if your computer network allows it, set up rules that force computer hibernation at the end of the work day and keep your computers powered down overnight. Now let’s move down the line to plugs and outlets. With our computers, phones, tablets, headphones and smart watches, we are constantly plugging in and charging up. All day long. Take a trip to the local Home Depot and pick up a few power strips with occupancy sensors. If no usage is detected, these strips turn off automatically after a specific time. This allows employees to keep their items charged and allows you to lower your energy costs.
The main culprits for your rising electricity bill are the A/C, the lights and your technology. Obviously, you need them all to run your business. No one is recommending going back to the dark ages. Yet, take a few hours this week to complete a review of your energy usage and consult a professional if needed. You may not be able to eliminate the big summer electricity bill but if you implement a few of our recommendations, you just may be able to keep your cool.
If you live in a deregulated energy market, you have the ability to choose your energy supplier and rate. The purpose of energy competition is to give consumers more control and better rates.
If you own or run a small business, it is highly recommended to switch electricity companies every 12 months to get the best rates available and manage monthly electricity costs. The average small business can save over 15% by switching energy supplier and plans each year.
Depending on where you live, state or local government or even electric utility companies can recommend or conduct energy assessments. If you don’t want to invest in a professional assessment, you can conduct your own energy assessment with a few helpful tips.