Business energy checkup

Big Thinking Energy Resources for Small Businesses

By Megan Porter

Many California small businesses are hard-working, nimble and open to new opportunities. They thrive on an entrepreneurial mindset that shapes their culture, and frankly, it's the way they prefer to operate.

However, there are certain times when small business owners and managers envy the big firms. In those moments, they wish they could tap into the information, tools and expertise that big businesses use.

In short, small businesses want access to big thinking resources.

They want to increase efficiencies and decrease costs across their operation, even if it's only a single location and a few employees. But then, the hard reality hits home: The most relevant insights and actionable plans usually come with a large price tag to match.

However, some small and medium-sized California businesses have found a different gateway to the information they need. They rely on the same energy management resources that bigger firms rely on, and the information and expertise they receive are just as relevant. The bottom line is also an unexpected revelation: This resource is complimentary for any California business, no matter what size it is.

The resource is called the Business Energy Checkup. It is an online self-assessment tool that was developed to help California businesses employ energy conservation techniques. This online resource enables owners and managers to make better informed decisions regarding their company's energy management and puts applicable energy saving tips to work.

Here are some of the ways California small businesses are using the Business Energy Checkup to assess their current energy use and determine ways to save energy.

Big thinking: Comparing energy spending by category
Small businesses often have large energy needs, and their energy use can vary greatly across different systems. But these firms are often unaware of their energy use by specific systems or how to calculate energy use. The Business Energy Checkup fills this void by allowing California small businesses to identify areas where they spend the most and least on energy by percentage. For example, small businesses can now compare lighting expenses and ventilation to other essential systems such as water heating or office equipment.

Estimated Electricity Use by Category. Based on our estimates, Lighting is about 46% of your annual electricity bill, which is about 445 kWh.

When small business owners know how to calculate energy use, they can accurately gauge the value of varied energy conservation techniques against their estimated energy usage by category. By pinpointing the largest energy users, small businesses are able to determine alternative options and employ energy saving tips to reduce their total spending and become more efficient.

Big thinking: Tracking energy use over time
In addition to estimating energy use by category, the Business Energy Checkup is helping California small businesses track their energy use over specific periods of time. Many small businesses want to review their annual or monthly spending, as well as their annual, monthly or daily electricity or natural gas use.

The Business Energy Checkup provides this highly valuable information. This resource offers small business owners and managers a solid framework to reference when considering their long-term energy use and which energy conservation techniques to pursue. By having an extended timeframe of energy use as a starting point, small businesses are able to leverage this information and work more effectively with a contractor in planning and estimating any energy efficiency initiative.

California small businesses are also using the Business Energy Checkup to determine how other pertinent factors impact their energy costs, including the weather and trends over days, months and years.

Business Energy Checkup tool

Big thinking: Energy saving recommendations
Once small business owners and managers have analyzed their energy use based on the aforementioned factors, they are leveraging that knowledge to help determine the optimal ways to conserve energy. This is another area where the Business Energy Checkup is offering them practical and actionable information, just like the big firms.

California small businesses are using the tool to help identify energy saving recommendations that are customized to their facilities and needs.

When determining the most suitable and beneficial recommendations, the small business owner or manager is considering a number of relevant details provided by the Business Energy Checkup. These include the upfront cost for implementation, the projected annual savings that can be achieved and the estimated time for project payback.

Here's another way that California small businesses have the same advantages as big businesses: For many recommendations, smaller firms are taking advantage of energy efficiency incentives that are offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). In addition, small businesses that are searching for qualified contractors are using the tool to access a Trade Professionals Directory. The directory lists local contractors who are experienced in energy management projects.

The Business Energy Checkup is available to California small businesses in every industry that are serviced by PG&E. Businesses should also consider available financing options before undertaking any energy efficiency project to reduce energy usage. Download the "Insider's Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency Projects" from PG&E, which provides resources and insights for successful planning.

How efficient California small businesses use big energy thinking:
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

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