As a business owner, you’re well aware of the increasing costs associated with what’s colloquially referred to as “keeping the lights on,” but there’s more to saving energy than simply flipping a switch. Fortunately, there are small changes you can make today that will have a cumulative effect on your bottom line in the months and years to come – many of which involve little more than an investment of your time.
You may have heard the term “IoT,” or “internet of things,” but what does that mean for business owners? Simply put, it refers to the practice of connecting anything with an on/off switch to the internet, and more and more devices – from doorbells to coffee makers to lightning and office equipment – are leveraging the power of this technology every day.
Smart technology can be used to enhance employee security by way of cameras, alarm systems, and door locks, but “smart” devices can save your business money as well. If you’ve ever arrived at the office on a Monday morning in the middle of July to find that the air-conditioning spent the weekend working overtime, the benefits of a smart thermostat should be immediately apparent.
Smart thermostats offer two benefits: first, they can learn the habits of employees and use this information to intuitively adjust the HVAC system according to the weather and expected occupancy. Second, they can be controlled using a smartphone from anywhere with internet connectivity, enabling business owners to override the “learned” settings in the event that the office is unexpectedly unoccupied (say, during a snowstorm).
Since 1992, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program has helped businesses and organizations save nearly $200 billion in energy costs.
Lighting is another significant cost of running a business, and it too can benefit from smart technology to save energy. Overlighting not only drives up your energy bill, but it can also cause other problems like glare, eyestrain, and headaches. Replacing outdated, inefficient, or redundant lighting fixtures may seem like a daunting task, but there are easier ways to start making the shift to greater energy efficiency.
Taking advantage of natural light is a low- to no-cost way to save energy, often requiring little more than rearranging some furniture and throwing open the blinds. Switching from broad overhead lighting to more concentrated task lighting puts the light where it’s needed most and can significantly reduce the expense of lighting up the entire office. Similarly, occupancy sensors and timers for rooms that are used infrequently (think: restrooms, conference rooms) will ensure you’re not footing the bill to illuminate empty rooms.
ENERGY STAR certified office equipment – from computers and monitors to printers and copiers – save energy through efficient design and power management options. They use less energy to begin with, and automatically enter low-power mode when not in use. The next time you shop for equipment – whether it’s a new fridge for the break room or an uninterruptible power supply for your data center – be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label. You’ll save energy in the long term, and eligible products may even qualify for a rebate.
Consider a Third-Party Energy Supplier
Unitil’s commercial and industrial electric and natural gas customers have the opportunity to choose the company that supplies their energy – an option often referred to as “customer choice.” The energy itself will still be delivered by Unitil, and we’ll still respond to service requests and emergencies. When choosing a retail energy supplier, it’s important to do your homework. Visit provider websites to view pricing and plan options, but be sure to look into the supplier's credit rating, customer service, and technology offerings. Learn more about 3rd-party suppliers.
- New and existing businesses have myriad opportunities to save energy – and money – by making small changes and long-term investments.
- The EPA’s ENERGY STAR program isn’t just for homeowners, and certified equipment includes everything from commercial food service equipment to building materials.
- Smart technology is changing every day and can be used to control anything with an on/off switch via the internet.