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10 Tips to Lower Your Business’s Natural Gas Bill

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.

Tips to Lower Your Business’s Natural Gas Bill

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.

1. Conduct an Energy Audit

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:

  1. Overview of energy use: In this phase, an auditor will collect and analyze your business’s energy data. They will use this data to calculate your business’s energy use intensity (EUI) compared to other facilities and assess areas where you can improve efficiency.
  2. Site assessment: During a site assessment, an auditor will interview your staff, inspect the building and equipment, and collect more data about energy use. This step seeks to build a comprehensive profile of your business’s energy consumption and habits.
  3. Energy and cost analysis: In this phase, an auditor will thoroughly analyze the data they have collected. They will pinpoint areas for potential savings and develop a list of recommended next steps.
  4. Audit report: An audit report summarizes the auditor’s findings and presents recommendations tailored to your business. When you’ve received an audit report, you can discuss and plan next steps that may increase your energy efficiency.

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.

2. Clear Air Vents & Change Filters

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:

  • Efficient operation: A well-maintained air vent can run efficiently and help prevent costly repairs.
  • Energy reduction: When your air vents are free from obstructions, they use less energy to circulate air.

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.

3. Assess & Fix Air Leaks

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.

4. Switch to Advanced Power Strips

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:

  • Timer-equipped: These strips have outlets with programmable timers that automatically turn on or off when scheduled. This can provide a convenient solution for leaving equipment plugged in while eliminating vampire loads.
  • Occupancy sensing: These strips provide outlets equipped with a motion detector that turns equipment on or off based on your physical presence. You can set shutoff periods to short intervals like 30 seconds or longer intervals like 60 minutes to fit with your workflow.
  • Current sensing: These strips automatically turn several outlets on or off when they detect a monitor is in a particular state of use or disuse.

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.

5. Power Down & Unplug Equipment

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:

  • When should our business unplug equipment?: It may not be realistic for all companies to unplug their equipment each night. Evaluate periods when your office is unoccupied and determine when it would make the most sense to unplug your equipment.
  • How can we get our employees on board?: The success of this strategy is heavily reliant on your employees’ willingness to comply. It may be beneficial to educate your workers on the benefits of unplugging equipment and provide some motivation for doing so.

6. Adjust the Temperature

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:

  • Summer: When your business is occupied, set the thermostat to 78 degrees. After work hours, adjust the temperature to 85 degrees.
  • Winter: When your business is occupied, set the thermostat to 68 degrees. After work hours, adjust the temperature to 60-65 degrees.

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.

7. Use a Programmable Thermostat

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.

8. Purchase Energy-Saving Equipment

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.

9. Maintain HVAC Equipment

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.

10. Shop & Switch to an Affordable Provider

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.

Should Your Business Switch to Natural Gas?

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:

  • You want a more cost-effective energy solution: When compared to other fossil fuels, the cost per unit of natural gas is low. You don’t have to take our word for it, however. You can compare the price of a fuel based on its heat content using this formula from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): [(Fuel price per unit) ÷ (fuel heat content per unit)] x 1,000,000.
  • You want a cleaner-burning energy source: In addition to its cost-efficiency, natural gas is relatively clean-burning. According to the EIA, natural gas produces about 117 pounds of carbon dioxide per million British thermal units (MMBtu). Comparatively, coal produces more than 200 pounds of carbon dioxide MMBtu.
  • You care about your energy’s carbon footprint: Natural gas requires less energy to transport to your business, which reduces its overall carbon footprint. This is because natural gas can be delivered via underground pipelines. Heating oil, on the other hand, is delivered in tank trucks. The gas that powers these trucks plus the oil itself combine to produce a higher amount of carbon dioxide emissions overall.

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.

How to Shop for the Best Natural Gas Supplier

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:

  1. Determine how much you currently pay for energy: To begin, collect your utility bills and statements or ask your current provider to send you a statement. Then, determine your yearly and monthly energy expenditures. This will serve as your baseline while you shop.
  2. Research suppliers in your area: Search online for different energy suppliers in your area. Call the suppliers or fill out online forms to collect quotes.
  3. Compare quotes and prioritize your needs: Once you’ve gathered quotes from local natural gas suppliers, you can compare them. Keep in mind that the lowest price may not always be the best fit. You should also consider a supplier’s customer service, advising options, price rates, fees, introductory rates, and more. Make sure you really know the company before you switch to ensure you’ve found the best fit.

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.

Lower Your Business’s Natural Gas Costs With Shipley Energy

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.

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