Easy Ways to Save Energy and Free Up Business Cash

Easy Ways to Save Energy and Free Up Business Cash

By Alice Bredin

When you focus on reducing energy use in your business, the payback is financial savings. These funds can then be put to use in other parts of your company.

Some ways of trimming energy use will give you easy, quick gains. Others take a bit more investment and offer greater financial rewards.

Read on to learn more about how you can save.

Low-cost actions, quick gain
Everyone wants to save money, but time and funds are in great demand. Start your energy savings program with these low- or no-cost steps that can reduce your monthly statement balance:

  • Make sure your heating and air-conditioning systems are operating at maximum efficiency. See that ducts aren’t blocked, and change filters as frequently as recommended. Use blinds or curtains to retain heat when it’s cold—or reflect it back outside when it’s hot.
  • Change temperature settings—or use a programmable thermostat—so that climate-control systems are either off or set to a minimal level during hours when no one is present.
  • Turn off lights that aren’t in use, and consider just letting the sun shine in when daylight can provide enough illumination.
  • If you have electronic devices that can be shut down during off-hours, plug them into a power strip and turn that off when you leave for the night.

Bigger improvements, bigger returns
Significant reductions in your energy costs can be had when you replace conventional products and equipment with more efficient alternatives. In order to justify making those investments, it helps to see what your financial return may be.

Consider these examples that may be applicable to your business:

  • Replacing incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can save you from $10 to $20 annually, per bulb. You can use this online calculator to get an estimate of the savings possible for your specific situation.
  • If you own your building and are ready to replace your air-conditioning unit, you may save upwards of $152 annually by installing an energy-efficient model. This calculator can take your custom inputs and generate a savings estimate for you.
  • Store owners can save more than 30 percent on electricity used by a glass-door refrigerator by selecting one that conforms to ENERGY STAR® standards; a typical unit may save more than $100 annually.1
  • Significant savings can be had by replacing kitchen equipment in food service businesses. Try reviewing different scenarios using this calculator. For example, depending on the type, a new dishwasher can save nearly $2,000 annually and use a third less water and electricity; a new electric griddle or convection oven can save about $250 each year.

Track your progress
When you can see the financial results of your company’s energy-efficiency tactics, you gain the confidence to do more. Knowing the results of your efforts will also help you make future decisions and will provide you with the numbers you may need to justify energy-saving investments to partners or others based on the financial payback you have seen so far.

Consider using one or more of the following resources to help quantify just how much of an impact your energy-saving efforts are making:

  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Business Energy Checkup is an interactive toolset that you can access by logging into your business’s online account. You can track estimated energy use by the different types of equipment you have installed and create customized savings plans.
  • A free online tracker from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program called Portfolio Manager® can help you measure and track your energy consumption—as well as water use, another area of concern for many companies. You can also download the Action Workbook for Small Business, which includes additional detailed advice on how to assess your progress.

Another benefit of taking the time to do a bit of tracking? It’s always encouraging to see results, and having proof of what you can accomplish with a small amount of effort may spur you to take bigger actions.

For more ideas on how to save cash by conserving energy, download PG&E’s e-book "25 Money-Saving Tips for Business".


  1. Calculated via ENERGY STAR Commercial Kitchen Equipment Calculator

Easy Ways to Save Energy and Free Up Business Cash
  • SMB Blog Author
    Alice Bredin
    Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert and author. Small business owners worldwide have relied on her books and columns to improve their productivity and success. She is a former small business commentator for public radio's Marketplace program and has helped shape small business policies through her testimony to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Alice is president of Bredin, Inc., a B2B marketing agency that helps the Fortune 500 sell to small and midsize businesses.

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