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How to Create a Small Business Energy Budget

By NOPEC on  January 24, 2019

Budgeting for energy efficiency may involve a bit of number crunching, but the energy and money your small business will save makes it worth it. ENERGY STAR data shows that while small businesses in the U.S. spend more than $60 billion every year on energy, they can cut their utility costs by 10 to 30 percent through strategic energy investments. Learn how to develop a small business energy budget, so you can start saving energy and money.

Small Business Energy Audit

First, you need to look at your energy costs to understand where your money is going. How much does lighting or temperature control cost your business? How much do factors like cold Ohio winters affect your small business energy costs?

If you’re business is in a NOPEC community, you can get an energy bill review through the Energy Advisor Program. You’ll receive an expert analysis of your natural gas and electric bills to identify the most beneficial rates and options available.

An energy audit can be a great first step to analyze your business’ energy use and provide recommendations on how you can save energy and money. Your historical usage and energy spend will help you create your energy budget.

Energy Efficiency Action Plan

Once you have a clear understanding of how your money is being spent, you can begin to factor in energy efficiency as you plan out your energy budget. Use your energy bill review to help determine which energy efficient products would best serve your business.

For example, based on your company’s energy use, a lighting retrofit could be a better investment than a new HVAC system if that’s where you see a lot of money being spent. If your budget is small,  switching from incandescent or fluorescent bulbs to LEDs or cleaning your HVAC filters could result in more energy savings. If you have some room in your budget to finance larger energy investments, you could look into replacing your office equipment with Energy Star-qualified printers, copiers, refrigerators, and TVs, or replace the desktop computers with laptops.

Energy Efficiency ROI

As you develop your action plan, you’ll need to determine how much those solutions could save on your business utility bill. Not all energy efficiency upgrades are created equal. For example, switching to LED bulbs might have a bigger return on investment than replacing your HVAC system.

To determine what works best for your small business, consider: Do you own the building? How long do you plan to stay there? For renters, you might be better off looking at short term solutions, such as upgrading to a smart thermostat or cleaning your HVAC filters. If your small business owns the building or if you have a long-term lease, larger investments like appliance upgrades or new HVAC systems will pay you back over the long term, so you’ll need to account for that in your energy budget.

Additional Energy Budget Considerations

Keep in mind that your energy budget should factor in other benefits that extend beyond the utility bill. Things like employee comfort and productivity as well as customer experience and satisfaction should also be taken into consideration.

The harshness of fluorescent lights, for example, has been known to give workers headaches. Not to mention, the high amounts of heat emitted from fluorescent lights can also lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, loss of concentration, and irritability, ultimately lowering employee productivity and happiness. LED lights, on the other hand, closely mimic natural light, which can boost employee morale and productivity.

Additionally, temperature can affect customer satisfaction and the likelihood they’ll make a purchase. Keeping your business warm—but not uncomfortably hot—has been known to make customers more inclined to purchase products and associate your business with that “warm, fuzzy” feeling. A smart thermostat can help your small business regulate temperatures for optimum customer satisfaction.

Energy Efficiency Financing

We get it: Small business energy budgets can be tight. 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 Efficiency, Small Business
Categories: Small Business

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