Conducting a Small Business Energy Audit
By NOPEC on July 25, 2019
High energy bills can be common for small businesses. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), energy costs are one of the top three business expenses in 35 percent of small businesses. Rather than increase the price of your goods and services, a commercial energy audit can help combat rising energy prices by gaining a better understanding of how your small business uses energy. Here are six ways small business owners can conduct an energy audit.
Find Air Leaks
Walk around your business to search for air leaks by putting your hand up to different areas in and around your building to see if you feel any air. This typically works best on cold days when you’ll feel a cool draft. Inside your building, you’ll want to look at your baseboards and places where your walls and ceilings come together. Switches and electrical outlets can also be common areas for air leaks. Outside, you’ll want to check your windows and doors, as well as places where different building materials like metal, wood, and brick meet. After identifying the air leaks, you’ll want to seal them with caulk or weather-stripping.
Verify Insulation Levels
The lower your insulation levels, the greater the chance you’ll experience energy loss. With insulation levels, the first thing to identify is when your building was built. Older buildings likely used the recommended insulation levels during the era it was built, but those recommended levels have since changed. The Insulation Institute provides industry resource standards for different commercial buildings. These resources allow you to check how thick your exterior wall insulation is by shining a flashlight into an outlet box. If your building has an attic, you’ll want to make sure your insulation is above the attic floor joists.
Check Your Thermostat
Heating and cooling can be responsible for a large chunk of your business’s energy bill. A workspace that’s too cold in the summer or too hot in the winter not only wastes energy but is also bad for business, as workers are less productive. Turning your thermostat up or down by just a couple of degrees can greatly reduce costs on energy bills. A smart thermostat can further help you regulate temperatures by turning the heat and air conditioning down during non-office hours.
Inspect Your HVAC
Along with your thermostat, make sure you are performing the recommended maintenance on your HVAC unit. This could mean changing the filters about every 12 weeks or having a technician service it once a year. If your HVAC is over 15 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model that can reduce your energy consumption.
Look at Your Lighting
If you’re still using incandescent or fluorescent lighting in your building, consider upgrading to the more energy-efficient LEDs. Most LEDs last an average of 25,000 hours and use a lot less energy compared to other light bulbs. In addition, dimmers and timers can help you reduce the amount of time your lights are on, especially if an employee forgets to shut the lights off when they leave a conference room or head out for the night.
Power Down for the Night
Between office computers, printers, and TVs, or industrial equipment in your manufacturing warehouse, these machines and devices use a lot of energy. Even when they’re not in use, they are still drawing power. Unplugging or using an energy-efficient power strip so they are fully turned off can make a difference when it comes to your energy bill.
Commercial Energy Audit Next Steps
The results of your commercial energy audit will show where your business is using the most energy. The next step is finding energy-efficient ways to cut down on energy, be it LED lights, an upgraded HVAC system, or added insulation, to name a few.
Need financing to help your small business become more energy efficient? NOPEC’s PACE loan program allows commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement projects by offering low-interest rates. Learn more about the benefits of a PACE loan, so you can start saving on small business energy costs.
Tags: NOPEC, Energy Audit, Small Business