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When you receive your electric bill each month, you probably wonder where all that energy goes. In commercial buildings, lighting takes an average of 17% of your energy use. Space heating, cooling, and ventilation combined take up about 30% of your energy use. With these items taking up a significant part of your energy costs, it’s natural to seek ways to cut down on expenses.

There are many avenues you can take to save on your electricity bill. The best way is to become more energy efficient. Efficiency saves you money on bills each month because you are using fewer resources. Energy efficiency is also good for the planet and is relatively low cost to pursue. Higher cost changes also pay for themselves through lower bills for years to come.

6 Tips to Lower Your Business’s Electric Bill

When you try to lower your electric bill, anything you do to curb your energy usage can add up to significant savings. Even small changes that you might not even notice can save your company money. Here are six things you can do to help you lower your energy bill:

1. Do an Energy Efficiency Audit

An energy audit is a great first step to lower your business’s electricity costs. With an energy efficiency audit, an energy professional will look at your building’s current usage and find ways to reduce it. They will spot air leaks and insulation issues, and recommend more efficient technology.

2. Do an After-Hours Audit

An after-hours audit you can do without the help of a professional. It involves checking what stays on and plugged in after everyone has gone home. To perform an after-hours audit, select a day at random and do not announce it beforehand. After everyone has left, wait an hour or two. Waiting allows anything that’s on a timer to power down, and computers to go into sleep mode. Then, take a walk around the premises and see what stays on. You might find computers running, technology plugged in, or lights left on.

You should identify some areas of improvement. From there, you may ask people to unplug and power down their devices each night. You may leave some reminders to turn off lights at the end of the day or put lights on motion sensors or timers. It may be helpful to repeat this experiment on a Friday night to see if anything can be shut off over the weekend.

3. Change Office Behaviors

When you’re looking to save energy, a few small changes to everyday routines can add up to big savings. Encouraging your team to make small efforts can be quite fruitful. Here are a few small behaviors your organization should consider:

  • Take the stairs: If your building has an elevator, you can save energy by using it less often. Encourage your team to take the stairs at least once per day. Or, challenge the whole office to a competition to see who can climb the most stairs each month. You’ll create a fun wellness initiative at your company and save some energy, too.
  • Use less light: Remind people to shut off the lights when they leave rooms. Conference rooms, kitchenettes, and copy rooms are common places where lights stay on all day. Encourage employees to use light coming in from their windows whenever possible.
  • Close doors: Leaving doors open can cause your climate control system to work extra hard. Open doors let in warm air in the summer and cold air in the winter. There may be lots of reasons doors get left open. Your loading dock doors might stay open during large deliveries. Someone may trigger a hold-open mechanism. Whatever the cause, remind employees to close all doors behind them.
  • Create flexible hours: One way to reduce energy use is to lower a building’s usage during “peak demand.” An office’s peak demand is when energy usage is at its highest. This point usually occurs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Letting employees stagger their workdays means less energy gets used at any one time. Fewer people will be working at any one time, so usage won’t spike as much. Another plus, letting employees work on a flexible schedule may mean they’ll come in more well-rested and well-fed. That possibility could mean less use of the office coffeemaker and kitchenette in the mornings.
  • Work from home: Letting team members work from can also reduce your peak demand. Part-time remote work, or even just one day a week, can make a difference. While not always a business expense, you and your employees may also reduce transportation costs.
  • Have a comfortable dress code: A casual dress code can allow you to spend less on heating and cooling costs. Thick sweaters in the winter can keep people warm without raising the thermostat. Casual short sleeve shirts can make the office less stuffy in the summer. A forgiving dress code can let people control their comfort without adjusting the temperature.
  • Ask employees to brainstorm: Involving your team in your energy-saving strategy can have positive results. You may find ideas that you haven’t considered. Also, in making saving energy a team effort, people may be more committed to making small changes.

4. Switch to the Cloud

Storing files on a local server means hosting a computer room. These computers draw a lot of energy and also produce a lot of heat. Server rooms need to be kept cool to protect the system from overheating. Switching to the cloud eliminates the need to host an IT room. Making the switch to cloud computing is also the perfect time to go paperless.

Besides saving paper and ink, moving paper files to the cloud can save you energy, too. Think about how often printers and copiers run throughout the day. This bulky equipment also stays plugged in, which can draw extra power when not in use. Going paperless can save you energy and save trees, too.

5. Invest in Energy-Efficient Technology

One of the best ways to cut down on energy costs is to use equipment that uses less energy. In general, energy efficient-technology will have a higher price point than less efficient models. However, the savings on your energy bill pay for these items quickly. Here is the best technology to try:

  • Power-saver mode: Most computers have a feature that causes computers to shut down when not in use. Hibernation mode can be a huge energy saver when employees forget to power down at the end of the day. Furthermore, many devices have a battery-saver mode that reduces performance in exchange for longer battery life. This feature can help employees plug in less frequently and get more juice out of their devices.
  • ENERGY STAR-rated appliances: ENERGY STAR is a government program to promote energy efficiency. The initiative rates air conditioners, computers, and other equipment that is energy efficient. Purchasing products with this rating as you retire old ones is a sure-fire way to bring down energy costs. Also, many local governments offer tax breaks for purchasing ENERGY STAR-rated equipment.
  • Laptops: Replacing computers and monitors with laptops may also reduce energy consumption. Laptops use less power when idle than desktops, and tablets use even less. Consider phasing laptops in as you retire old desktops and monitors.
  • Power strips: Surprisingly, items that stay plugged in when not in use still draw power. You can reduce “phantom energy” by plugging things into power strips. Using a surge protector allows you to cut power to many devices with a single switch. Remember to make sure power strips get flipped to “off” at the end of the day.
  • CFL and LED light bulbs: One of the easiest ways to lower your business’s electric bill is to replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. Look at these bulbs by the numbers. Each traditional incandescent light bulb will cost $4.80 per year at two hours of use each day. An energy-efficient LED light bulb will only cost $1.00 per year under the same conditions. Think about how many light bulbs you have in your building, and these costs add up. Also, an LED light bulb lasts 25 times as long as a traditional incandescent bulb.
  • Programmable thermostat: Are you heating and cooling your building when no one is there? A programmable thermostat can be a huge opportunity to limit your energy bill. You can set the thermostat to raise or lower temperatures when the office closes. Setting a schedule for your thermostat makes it easy to ensure the office is at a comfortable temperature when you arrive. It will also adjust on its own when you leave.

6. Optimize Your Building

Your building itself could be the cause of some of your energy inefficiencies. An old, drafty building will cost more to heat and cool than one with good insulation. Landscaping and interior design can also have an impact on energy costs. Here are some ways you can save money by upgrading your building:

  • Plant shady trees: Tall, leafy trees provide more than beautiful foliage. They can save you money on your electricity bill. In the summer, the shade from trees keeps your building cool. In winter and autumn, trees can break the wind, letting less cold air in through open doors and other air leaks. Well-positioned trees can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 25%.
  • Insulate the building: A major source of increased energy usage is air leaks. These areas around windows and doors can let in cold air. Patching up these leaks can reduce your heating costs. You should also inspect your insulation, and consider improving it. Doing so can help keep heat inside the building.
  • Keep vents clear: If furniture or files block your vents, this can cause them to work harder to move air around your building. Consider changing the layout of your space to keep vents clear. Also, keep an eye on your vents regularly to make sure they don’t get blocked by papers or other objects in the future.
  • Create natural light: One way to help your employees to keep lights off is to create more natural light. If you can, outfit the building with more windows or skylights. You can also install adjustable or translucent shades to block sunlight when it’s hot and still let in more light.

Should Your Business Switch Electricity Suppliers?

If you are looking for ways to save on electricity in your business, one avenue is to switch electricity suppliers. If you’ve seen your rates go up recently, this can indicate that it’s time to switch to a new supplier.

If you’ve been with the same utility company for a long time, it’s probably been a while since you’ve looked at your rates. Electricity rates often change, so shopping for a new supplier can help you see if you are getting a competitive price. If you’ve been with the same supplier for a long time, you may not realize just how much the energy market has shifted.

Thanks to deregulation, energy companies can sell energy at a competitive rate. Electricity suppliers have become more transparent with their pricing. They have also curbed surprise increases in price after an introductory promotional rate. Additionally, suppliers can now source electricity from many producers, which can streamline rates and help you get the best deal.

A new energy provider can help you take advantage of some other cost-saving features. With commercial electricity procurement, you can get a dedicated energy consultant who understands your business and helps you to get the best deal on your energy. Your energy provider can also help you access a demand response program. Participation will earn your business money to limit energy usage during times of increased demand.

If you’re interested in making the switch, the best time to do so is when demand is low, and the weather is moderate.

How to Shop for the Best Electric Supplier

If you’re thinking about switching to a new electricity supplier, follow this five-step process:

1. Search Suppliers by ZIP Code

The first step is to find which suppliers serve your area. Many states have a searchable list of competing producers that provide energy to your local utility. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code to get a list of energy providers in your area.

2. Find the Best Deal

Once you see all the suppliers in your area, you can look for the best deals. You will be able to view all the current prices available in your ZIP code and compare them to the utility company rate. You’ll also see other information about that company’s fees and terms of use.

3. Vet Each Supplier

Once you’ve found the best deals, you’ll want to make sure the vendor is qualified. Check that they have the proper licensing in your area. Your state’s government should provide this license.

4. Compare Each Quote to Your Current Bill

Remember that there is more to the price you’ll pay than the rate per Kilowatt hour. You’ll also have to compare fees and other costs. If you are unsure what all the fees associated with your current bill cover, this is an excellent time to learn. As you learn about these fees, you’ll better understand the rates available to you. See how the quotes compare to your current bill by looking at your average current energy consumption and adding fees. If you have yet to try more energy efficiency strategies, your new bill might get even lower as you work towards these goals.

5. Make the Switch

After you’ve chosen the best deal, you can contact the supplier to make the switch. Don’t worry about notifying your utility company. Your new supplier will take care of the notification process. You’ll receive confirmation in the mail that your utility company verified the switch. You may have to pay a cancellation fee from your current provider if you switch before your contract ends.

Find the Best Rates for Your Business With Shipley Energy

If you’re looking to find more ways to save on your electricity bill, Shipley Energy can help. We have over 85 years of providing excellent energy services to our customers. Whether you’re interested in our commercial electricity solutions, or would like help developing an effective energy procurement strategy, trust Shipley Energy. Contact us online to learn more about our services.

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