Your business’s natural gas supply fuels your operations. Without this energy, your facility would be hard-pressed to produce the results you strive for — or operate at all. Energy is crucial in the commercial sector. In fact, the American Gas Association (AGA) reports that one-fifth of the U.S.’s total energy use comes from commercial buildings.
Commercial buildings range from small to massive, with an average size of about 15,700 square feet. When heating, cooling, and powering appliances and equipment in a facility this large, even small changes can help cut down your business’s natural gas bill. Fortunately, there is a range of options available to help save on natural gas in your business.
When exploring how to lower your business’s natural gas costs, you need to consider both major and minor actions. Some of these tips are low-cost and easy to implement, which may be a great starting point for your business. Tips that require a greater time commitment and investment may work better as long-term goals. Regardless of what works best for your organization, you can likely find a way to implement change and enjoy savings on your energy bill.
Energy audits serve as a foundational tool when trying to cut your natural gas costs. An energy audit is an assessment that determines how your business uses energy and how you might increase your energy efficiency. These tools highlight areas where change might be most impactful and can serve as a road map for long-term energy efficiency.
The energy audit process generally occurs in four phases:
The cost of an audit depends on the scope and depth of the assessment. According to the Department of Energy, energy audits may vary from 12 cents to 50 cents per square foot. Consider an energy audit as an investment for valuable, specific, and professional information that can help you improve. Once you’ve completed an audit, evaluate the recommended steps and implement what you can to help lower your natural gas bill.
Unless your air vents have caused issues in the past, you likely haven’t thought about them in a while. Air vents aren’t the most obvious target for energy-saving measures, but they could make a difference in your business’s energy usage. According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, air vent contamination can force your heating and cooling system to work harder to maintain the temperatures you require in your building.
Cleaning and maintaining your vents provides two main benefits:
Giving your air vents a bit of attention could contribute to a lower monthly natural gas bill, especially if your vents were flagged as a problem area during your energy audit.
Depending on your building’s age and construction, you may be losing precious energy via air leaks. Old windows, doors, and walls are common sites for air leaks, which may contribute to high energy costs. Air leaks have a more noticeable impact in temperate or cold climates where heating is used regularly. If your building uses heat to combat cold winter temperatures, you may benefit from finding and patching air leaks.
If your energy audit identified air leak problem areas, address them with weather stripping and caulking where appropriate. Window films, added insulation, and reflective roof coatings may also help to reduce your energy consumption.
Power strips allow you to maximize your building’s outlet capabilities and run a large amount of equipment. The downside to this convenience is that standard power strips may be sucking energy even when your devices are powered down.
Some pieces of equipment have “vampire loads” that continue to consume energy when plugged into a power strip and turned off. One solution to this issue is to switch to advanced power strips (APS). APS have electronic capabilities that help regulate your devices’ energy when plugged in.
There are three types of APS you may consider:
You can choose the APS that works best for your business, budget, and work style. The more you reduce your overall energy consumption with APS, the more impact you’ll see on your natural gas bill.
Some businesses don’t utilize power strips, and others are not in a position to invest in numerous new APS replacement strips. If this is true for you, there are still ways to avoid vampire loads and reduce your gas bill. The workaround is to power down and unplug your equipment at night, over the weekends, and during holidays.
While this method doesn’t require a monetary investment, it may take some brainpower. For maximum efficiency, consider these elements for powering down:
Air conditioning and heating use up a significant amount of energy. Accordingly, adjusting your building’s temperature is a simple way to help your business save on natural gas costs. Here are some recommendations for maximum energy efficiency in your building:
It’s important to consider your employees’ comfort in tandem with temperature changes. Your employee’s productivity and job satisfaction should be a high priority, and choosing an uncomfortable temperature may cause problems in these areas. Work together to find a practical balance between physical comfort and energy savings. Even small changes like raising or lowering your thermostat just one degree in the summer or winter can help you save up to 3% on your natural gas bills.
If you have a manual thermostat, adjusting your temperature at night and over the weekend becomes an additional job for someone to complete and remember. This responsibility can add inconvenience and hassle on top of everyday work duties. Programmable thermostats eliminate these worries with automatic temperature adjustments.
Programmable thermostats allow you to schedule temperature changes during specific times of the day, such as at the end of the workday. Installing a programmable thermostat does require a small upfront investment, but you can likely recover that cost through your energy savings.
A longer-term solution to reduce your natural gas bill is to replace some of your equipment with more energy-efficient products. The products you replace will differ based on your budget and your business.
Whether you replace equipment periodically or wait until the need arises, you can opt for energy-saving products to gradually transform your energy consumption. A simple way to choose energy-efficient equipment is to look for a light blue ENERGY STAR® label. As a government-backed agency, ENERGY STAR provides credible information to help businesses find and select energy-efficient products.
Maintenance throughout your HVAC system can extend its life and help reduce energy costs. According to the Building Efficiency Initiative, effective HVAC maintenance can reduce your energy costs by between 5% and 40% depending on the system.
One way to keep your HVAC running efficiently is to establish a preventative maintenance routine. Find a maintenance contractor you can count on to keep your HVAC system in top shape and your natural gas bills low.
Businesses spend time and energy looking for the right equipment vendors and insurance policies to fit their budgets and needs. Though many don’t realize it, you can also shop around for natural gas providers. In some cases, you may be able to lower your natural gas bill by switching to another energy provider. As you compare quotes from different providers, use our online pricing tool to find a quick and accurate quote for your area.
More than 5.4 million commercial customers rely on natural gas for their space- and water-heating needs. If your business uses other forms of energy, you may be able to save money and reap additional benefits by switching to natural gas.
Natural gas may be a good fit for your business if one or more of the following is true:
For many, switching to natural gas may be a profitable and eco-friendly solution. To make the most of your transition, here are some helpful tips.
Shopping for natural gas suppliers allows you to pick an option that fits your business. This freedom is possible due to energy deregulation — that is, a variety of energy suppliers in a single territory from which companies can choose.
Before the deregulation shift in the 1970s, the energy market was highly regulated. This meant consumers had one provider option in each territory. Today, deregulation gives consumers in 28 states access to competitive prices from multiple natural gas providers.
To capitalize on this freedom and find the best natural gas supplier, there are few steps to take:
When considering natural gas suppliers, don’t forget to add Shipley Energy to your list. We partner with businesses to provide commercial natural gas services and much more. Our team will analyze your company’s energy needs and help you develop a plan that meets your short-term and long-term goals. We also monitor the energy market to help give reliable recommendations about whether you should select fixed or variable rates. When you work with us, you’ll receive personalized consultation services that you won’t find anywhere else.
At Shipley Energy, we’ve been pushing the envelope on energy for 85 years. We don’t just offer cutting-edge energy options. We’re committed to helping your business select the best option to meet your goals and fit your budget. We’ll even help you strategize energy solutions to increase your efficiency and lower your overall energy costs.
Contact us online today to learn more about natural gas and other options for powering your business.