Electric bills are going higher. Your business must act now because the utilities in over a dozen states are projecting 5-15% annual electricity price increases. Only five states have utilities that do not project higher prices in the coming year. This article profiles five way you can take control your electricity costs.
Why your electric bill continues to go higher
Electricity produced by your local utility is doomed to cost you more. The technologies used by the electricity industry are defined by their increasing costs. Power plants cost more to build, repair and maintain. Long-term fuel costs to run a power plant are going up just like our pump prices. Utilities face massive cost investments to protect grid reliability and security. It you do not act then your business is doomed to pay more to your local electric utility. Just a five percent annual increase in utility prices means your utility bill will be 20% higher in just four years!
Five ways to lower your business electric bills
The good news is that there are best practices available to every business that can reduce what you pay the electric utility. Reducing your electric bill is now one of the easiest, fastest and most proven ways to increasing your profits. Here are five proven ways to increase your profits by reducing your electric bills:
1. Hire a utility rate audit expert
Is there anything more complicated than electric rate designs? But there is gold locked inside an electric utility’s clumsy and complicated rates. In almost every electric utility jurisdiction there are rate analysts that your business can hire to audit your bills and give you concrete ways for reducing your business’ electric bills. Many of these rate analysts will work for a share of actual electric bill savings. A best practice in choosing a rate analysis is to look for one that used to work in the rate department for your local utility. Another is to get three referrals of businesses like yours where the rate analyst has saved money for these businesses by reducing their electric bills. A third best practice is call your local electric utility. A growing number of them offer free bill audits and onsite energy analysis to help you find ways to reduce your electric bills. This is a first step every business must do if you are serious about reducing your electricity costs.
2. Install LED lights
Installing LED lights is absolutely the best investment you can make in your business. LED lights typically pay for themselves in six to twenty-four months after installation. (A six month payback period means you are earning a 200% annual return on investment!)
LED lights use about a tenth of the electricity that the old Edison bulbs consume. Unlike those old Edison bulbs a LED light bulb does not generate heat. Why is that important? Would you turn on a heater in the middle of summer? In fact you are turning on a heater when you turn on an old Edison bulb. So you are paying higher electric bills to keep your customers and employees conformable by running the A/C harder to overcome the heat generated from old Edison bulbs. Finally, LED light bulbs last and last and last. This reduces your labor costs. Call three lighting contractors and get bids on converting your business to LED lighting and begin earning up to 200% annual return on your money.
3. Green teams
A green team is a self-directed group of work associates focused upon trying to figure out how to reduce a company’s environmental footprint. How does that reduce electric bills? Businesses that I have worked with that have started green teams report that reducing waste streams and emissions also reduces costs. As a manager or business owner how often do you ask your work associates to be more focused upon costs? Yet this focus is typically not motivating unless there is a financial crisis that looks like it could impact a work associate’s job or pay.
But the miracle of green teams is that people are highly motivated to find ways to improve human health, including the health of the environment. This is especially strong among the millennial generation and their moms who I call Concerned Caregivers because of their focus upon the wellness of their loved ones. Engaging these work associates in green teams is a proven best practice for identifying and implementing sustainable changes in processes and behaviors that will reduce your electric bill along with many other costs incurred in your business that have a waste stream or create emissions.
4. Natural lighting
Natural lighting is free! Studies have soon that work associates are more productive in natural lighting environments. Using more natural lighting will mean using less electric lighting plus it will increase your labor productivity.
If you have green teams then ask them to come up with ideas for how to increase natural lighting in your building. A complimentary path is to hire a space design expert. For a very reasonable fee a space design expert can offer ideas and even designs for rearranging workstations to allow for more natural lighting. Also explore light tubes. This old idea of creating a path for natural lighting to enter from a ceiling into the interior of a building has become a modern day best practice that offers a tremendous return on investment by reducing the need for interior electric lighting.
5. Get smart
The cost of sensors has pummeled. Building control systems costs have fallen while their capacity has increased. Today most building owners can monitor and control their building’s operations from their smart phones!
The Internet Of Things is now a cost competitive path for making your building and business more efficient. If you have lighted stairwells then install a smart system to dim these lights to code-approved levels until someone enters the stairwell which will trigger a return to full lighting. This same system works for other spaces not always occupied like bathrooms or storage areas.
California’s new Net Zero Energy building codes now mandate automated natural lighting. Automated natural lighting uses building sensors to calibrate the amount of electric lighting needed compared to available natural lighting. When natural lighting is abundant these automatic systems reduce or turn off electric lighting. These systems are a financial no-brainer for every business. After you see how easy it is to cut electricity costs through smart building systems you will want to retain an expert in smart building technologies to harvest the growing number of cost-effective smart building technologies that deliver everyday cost-savings.
Energy efficiency is now one of the easiest and fastest ways for a business to increase profits. The above five best practices are just a few of the growing number of paths available to every business that will deliver sustained savings for ten or more years.
Acting upon energy efficiency can also actually increase your sales. I have coached a number of businesses that have documented their waste/energy consumption reductions (and environmental impacts) to qualify as a green business. Today consumers and major corporations are seeking to do business with green businesses. Do not miss this opportunity to cut costs while also rebranding your business to harvest the multi-billion dollars in supplier contracts now available from Corporate America for green business.
About the author
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017