By Aidan Jenkins, Managing Director of Infinite Energy, commercial solar power and business electricity provider.
One of the highest overhead costs to Australian businesses is the cost of energy. In fact, commercial buildings are one of Australia’s biggest electricity consumers. As a business owner or a chief financial officer, it’s important to keep your eye open for energy and cost saving techniques that can be implemented into your business practices.
Cultivating an energy efficient system with energy efficient practices can help you to cut business costs, and it can help save the environment, but you’ll need to get the rest of your staff involved to make it a success. So, how do you go about incorporating a more energy efficient business?
Start Small – Look at Lighting
One of the simplest ways to cut costs in your business is by looking at electrical items that use energy the most often, like lights, which can use around half of the electricity that a commercial building uses with traditional lighting methods.
Switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest and most cost effective things you can do to help cut costs in your business and save energy. Replacing old light bulbs with new energy efficient ones requires an initial investment, but the bulbs will use a fraction of the electricity and last years longer than traditional lighting.
If possible, make sure that lights are turned off at the end of the day.
Track Your Energy Use
Depending on the size of your business, tracking your energy use may be a simple, manual process, or it may require a more intense and efficient method for tracking business electricity use and costs. Every business and every client base has a unique set of needs, and you’ll need to tailor your business practices to your business needs.
Unfortunately, commercial utility rates are on the rise. Paying bills on a monthly basis doesn’t really give you insight into how electricity is used on a daily basis.
A lot of energy providers will have energy tracking tools available to you, and you can access them from your smartphone, computer, or a device within your business.
You can also find out more with an energy audit, which will show you when and where you are using the most energy, and allow you to pick out inefficient processes that can be replaced with better ones.
Ask your energy provider for an energy audit. While you’re at it, ask for any potential deals you might be eligible for. If you can negotiate a better rate, switch to another provider, or supplement your power with another source of energy, it might be worth looking into.
Monitoring your energy consumption on a day-to-day basis, or even tracking it on an hourly basis will allow you to collect data that shows you when and where you are using the most energy, and how you can work more efficiently.
Supplement with Solar Power
In Australia, solar panels are a great way to supplement your electricity consumption, protect the environment, and ultimately, cut business costs. In some cases, you may even be able to completely convert your daytime energy consumption to solar power.
There are still Government incentives in place meaning you will receive a large, upfront discount off the cost of a solar system. There are also lots of financing options available in the market. Savings from a solar system will generally outweigh any finance repayments meaning your business can be cash flow positive from day one.
In addition to reducing the amount of electricity that needs to be purchased, solar systems may make your business eligible for a for a lower commercial electricity rate. This means even further savings on your electricity bill.
Solar panel systems do require an initial investment and some research into a high quality tier one system in order to last, but selecting the right one means that you’ll be cutting business costs in no time.
Use Energy Efficient Equipment
Lighting may be the simplest electrical equipment to change, but most businesses have many more pieces of equipment that consume electricity. Things like computers, monitors, copy machines, printers, and other office equipment uses a huge chunk of your electricity. As your equipment is outdated and needs replaced, purchase energy efficient versions of all of these appliances -- it will go farther than you might think in reducing your energy bill. Get in the habit of turning off electronics when they are not in use for long periods of time, like after business hours or when the business is closed.
Computer storage devices and IT servers are compact, energy efficient devices that can generate a lot of heat. Instead of keeping these devices in a closed room, try keeping them near the exterior of the building, in a well ventilated room, either on the ground floor or below ground level where temperatures are naturally cooler.
Get Your Employees on Board
Without the help of your employees and staff, your energy efficient plan may look good on paper, but it won’t be functional. Encourage staff to keep electronics off when not in use, including office equipment and lighting. When business is closed, keep temperatures set warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. Allow different areas of the building to control their own temperature settings, and ask that windows and vents be opened and closed accordingly.
You may even hire a “green team” whose responsibility it is to ensure that your energy efficiency is not only maintained, but constantly improving.
The Energy Efficient Business Checklist
Use this checklist to put your team on the right path to a greener office environment and start saving money:
Start Small -- What are electronics that you use on a daily basis that could be turned off or easily replaced with energy efficient alternatives?
Track Energy Use -- The more you know, the easier it is to notice inefficiencies and improve upon them.
Get an Energy Audit -- Sometimes, a professional knows best.
Get an Energy Tracking Device -- Often, an online device or an app is free and gives you all the information you need.
Find Alternate Sources of Power -- Solar Power is a great way to supplement, save money, and help the environment.
Switch to Energy Saving Equipment -- In addition to lightbulbs, look at other equipment that you use
Other Office Equipment
Regulate Heating and Cooling
Keep temperatures at a reasonable level depending on the season.
Store heat generating equipment on the ground floor or below, and near the exterior of the building.
Get Your Employees On Board -- You cannot do it alone; you will need the help of your staff.