5 Simple Retrofits to Boost Your Business’ Energy Efficiency
By Emma McGrath, Communications Fellow
As a business owner, you’re used to keeping track of numbers. Whether it’s revenue, sales metrics, or social media followers, numbers can tell you a lot about the success of your company. But for many businesses, some important figures often go missing. For example, did you know that on average, about 30 percent of a commercial building’s energy goes to waste?
That’s a lot of energy — and a lot of money down the drain. For business owners, especially ones operating small businesses with tight margins, investing in energy efficiency can sound like a big undertaking. But energy upgrades don’t have to be costly or difficult to implement. With a little knowhow and a few low-capital investments, you can start saving money, optimizing your building’s performance, and reducing your environmental impact today. Here are 5 easy ways to get started.
1. Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: in commercial buildings, 50 percent of your energy bill can come from lighting alone. That’s hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of dollars out the door every month, just to light your workspace. Energy-efficient LED bulbs use roughly 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, while emitting the same amount of light. Plus, they last 25 times longer, which means less work for you down the road. Upgrading your lighting system is one of the easiest, quickest ways to start saving money and reducing your energy usage. If you haven’t already, consider replacing your old lighting stock with LEDs, and watch the savings roll in.
2. Weatherize Your Building Stock
Business owners know all too well how expensive it can be to keep a workplace warm in the winter and cool in the summer. What they might not know is how much money is wasted when air escapes from unsealed cracks, poor insulation, and lack of knowledge about temperature control. Simple steps like keeping doors closed, blocking direct sunlight from windows in hotter months, and covering windows on colder nights can make your building more comfortable at little to no cost to you.
And with a little more investment, you can uncover major savings on your heating and cooling bill. Insulating the walls that separate your interior space from the outside world is an important step toward conserving energy. An even simpler solution is air sealing, which plugs the cracks, holes, and gaps in your building (for example, beneath the doors, or where your walls meet your foundation) at a remarkably low price.
3. Conserve Water
Some business models are more water-intensive than others, but all businesses can save money by reducing water use. If you’re looking for low-cost improvements for your business, replacing your building’s original toilets and urinals with high-efficiency or low-flow models can save hundreds of gallons of water every year, bringing you big savings on your monthly water bill. Installing faucet aerators for sinks and low-flow shower heads can also cut down on costs. Look for WaterSense branded products when shopping for new fixtures, which can be 20 percent more efficient than standard models. As a business owner, you’ll see immediate savings; plus, who doesn’t want to feel good about conserving an important natural resource?
4. Replace Your Thermostat
If your building doesn’t have a thermostat, or your thermostat is an older model, you could be giving up hundreds of dollars every year in energy efficiency savings. Thermostat technology has come a long way in the digital age. Smart products like Nest actually learn what temperature you prefer depending on what season it is, what day of the week it is, and the time of day — then they program themselves according to your needs. You can control the temperature of your building remotely from a computer or phone, so you have full control of your energy usage, no matter where you are. And basic installation comes at a reasonable price: about $99-$250.
5. Get Smart
When you operate a business, there are a host of factors competing for your attention. With everything that’s on your plate, it’s easy to lose sight of precisely how much energy you’re using, and where you’re spending the most money. The good news is that developments in energy management software have made it easier than ever to track your energy and water usage. Simple, user-friendly applications enable you to monitor your energy demand over time, identify inefficiencies, and find ways to save long-term. Rather than combing through your utility bill every month, take advantage of data-driven solutions that do the bulk of the work for you.
Business ownership isn’t always easy, but boosting your energy efficiency can be. As a member of the business community, you can set the sustainability standard in your neighborhood — and save money along the way. If you’d like to learn more about how CABA can help your business become more sustainable, contact Programs Director Joe Carpenter.
About the Author: Emma McGrath is a recent graduate of Northeastern University, where she studied International Affairs and Spanish. During her time at Northeastern, she held three co-ops, most recently with the Office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Prior to that, she worked for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and NBC News. As a student, she served as President of the Northeastern University Political Review, and studied abroad in Turkey, Germany and Argentina. Her interests include renewable energy policy, urban planning, and climate resilience. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying the outdoors, exploring New England, and spilling coffee on everything she owns.