the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, we wanted to profile one initiative that
could not only better your business, but also benefit the greater world. We’re
talking about simple things you, as a small business owner, can do to save
energy in your office. You’ll find that these tips not only help to save the planet
but can also help you cut costs and can even help you snag buy in from the
elusive younger workforce who deeply value sustainable environment initiatives.
Measure it to manage it Of course, it’s easy to say that we should cut our energy use, but do you know where your company spends the most energy? Performing an energy audit, while far from exciting, is necessary to understand not only what the issue is, but also to help you best evaluate your options and understand the return on your investment. Some local power companies offer no-obligation energy audits to help you identify where you are spending the most and help you come up with potential fixes, but you can also enlist the help of a private company to really do a deep dive and study usage over time and the impact of changes.
See the Light: This one seems obvious, but there’s a ton of money saving potential in simply paying attention to your lights. We’re talking switching out your usual bulbs for energy conserving LEDs, adding motion detecting light switches for less traveled areas (such as conference rooms, rarely used corridors, and even storage spaces), or simply posting signs reminding folks to turn off lights when not in use.
Become a turn-off: Yes, we know switching off your computer is a pain each night, but it can save considerable energy (and tech geeks say it’s better for your system). Extend this energy saving wave by placing other big-ticket electronics – such as your printers and fax machines – in their recommended power storage settings or programming them to “snooze” when not in constant use.
Shoot for the stars: Yes, it seems silly to lay out large amounts of money for energy-saving devices, but those pennies that you save over time can really stack up! Moreover, you can sometimes get tax breaks or other credits for swapping outdated, energy sucking appliances for sleeker, greener models. Look for energy efficient or those that bear the Energy Star icon when shopping for new computers, printers, and appliances such as refrigerators and microwave ovens. You can also reap big rewards by updating your HVAC and water heating system with energy star-approved items.
Cloud coverage: Nope, not the clouds in the sky, the cloud on your computer! Subbing out your servers and instead going with a cloud-based storage system can save you significant energy (with some studies suggesting that it can cut energy use by as much as 90 percent, depending on how dated your existing system is and what it requires to run). Further, keeping everything on the cloud allows your business to be more agile, more mobile – and you really don’t have to worry about the system crashing and your losing all the info!
Temperature truce: The one thing we can all agree to disagree on in our office is the ultimate temperature! Our folks in the front feel the breeze from the front door, while those in the back complain that it’s like a sauna! Rather than let them duke it out by fiddling with the thermostat, set one temperature for the office and then allow employees to use fans as needed to help create a climate that works best for them. Another wise investment? A smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely and allows for the heating or air to be cut when your building is empty and scheduled to resume before the first employee even opens the door.
Perfect power: In the last decade or so, alternative power sources have gone from something only the rich and famous had to something that is attainable for most! Making use of solar or wind power or energy from another renewable sources can have a huge impact on your bottom line and significantly reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to check out your state and district’s local environmental resources to determine whether you may be eligible for grants, discount or other opportunities to earn dollars back for going green!
Transportation needs: One of the biggest energy savers for your office is determining who actually needs to physically be there each day and who can work remotely – either part of the time or most of the time. Having fewer folks in the office reduces your need for space, which in turn reduces your need for energy to heat and power said space. Plus, your workers will appreciate the opportunity to work from home (where they can waste their own power!) If having physical bodies in the office is a must, help workers to figure out the use of public transportation or carpooling opportunities to best reduce their carbon footprint.