2. Use Passive Energy-Saving Measures
Complement your programmable or smart thermostat with passive energy-saving measures that reduce your climate control and lighting systems’ workloads and carbon footprints:
- Double-Pane Windows: Double-pane windows are better insulators than old-school, single-pane windows. They’re expensive – anywhere from $270 to more than $600. However, they last for many years, so they’re likely to pay for themselves and then some.
- Light-Blocking Blinds and Curtains: Use blackout curtains on south- and west-facing windows (in the Northern Hemisphere) to minimize light intrusion (and passive heating) on warm days. Throw open those curtains on cold days to maximize passive heating. On single- or double-wide windows, the cost can be as little as $15 to $20 per curtain (including rods).
- Tight Seals: If you work in an older structure, caulk and weatherstrip common heat loss points: exterior window and door frames, utility line entries, and air vents. In a small space, the entire project can cost as little as $20 or $30, with material left over.
- Solar Water Heater: If you’re responsible for your building’s mechanical appliances, invest in energy efficient upgrades as your budget allows. Top of your list should be a solar water heater, which uses the power of the sun to heat your fresh water supply. A residential solar water heater costs between $8,000 and $10,000. That’s likely sufficient for home offices and small commercial spaces, such as converted houses. If you occupy a larger space, you’ll need a heavier-duty heater. That’s likely to cost more, but the potential savings will be greater too.
Before you start an energy-saving project, determine whether it qualifies for local, state, or federal energy-efficiency tax credits. Energy-sipping appliances, insulation, and small-scale renewable energy project often do.
3. Power Down Nonessential Lights, Appliances, and Machinery After Hours
This is a painfully straightforward way to reduce your company’s electricity bill without affecting its operations. And once you and your team get in the habit of following through, it’s painfully easy too.
In a white-collar office, personal computer workstations comprise the single biggest nonessential energy suck, so make sure everyone powers theirs down before heading out. Shut off overhead and desk lights too, or leave instructions for building cleaning crews to do so when they’re done. In restaurants and light industrial facilities that don’t run overnight, power off machinery and appliances not required for safety or storage – in other words, turn off the oven, not the freezer.
4. Reduce Paper Use
Like reducing energy and water usage, cutting down paper waste is good for your company’s bottom line and the environment. And there are myriad ways to do it, including:
- Print and copy double-sided by default
- Use secure electronic file exchange services such as Delivered Secure, rather than traditional courier services
- Reuse waste paper for scratch or notes
- Tighten margins and shrink fonts on printed reports
- Inform vendors and other sources of postal mail when employees no longer work for your company
- Take your company’s name off direct mailing lists wherever legally and practically possible
5. Align Plan Costs With Usage
Your company probably pays for a lot of essential services – telecommunications, cloud storage, bookkeeping, perhaps even legal support – via monthly or annual plans. At minimum, you should review these plans once per year to determine whether they’re adequate for your needs.
If you’re paying for capacity that you don’t need or use regularly, you can likely downsize to a cheaper plan without hurting your business. Conversely, if you’re routinely exceeding the limits of a lower-capacity plan, you could be paying a lot to run over those limits – for instance, some cellular carriers charge $10 or $15 per gigabyte for data overages. Upsizing to a more generous, higher-capacity plan might result in a higher monthly fee, but it could save you hundreds in the long run.