Did you know that the average American small business could save as much as $5,000 per year by becoming 25 percent more energy efficient?
That's what a study by the National Small Business Association discovered. It also found that if all small businesses made this effort, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 259 million tons -- or the equivalent of 51 coal-fired power plants.
No matter what type of green your business is counting, everybody wins with energy efficiency.
But the upfront costs of acquiring more energy-efficient equipment can often be a hurdle for small businesses. If you're a small business owner looking to cut costs and do your part for the environment, your local utility may have innovative energy-efficiency programs and varying incentives to help.
For instance, in San Diego County, where 95 percent of businesses are small businesses, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) launched a no-cost program targeting small to mid-sized commercial customers in February 2011, and many are taking advantage of it.
Called Direct Install, it's also available from California's other major http://www.dsireusa.org to find out what incentives apply for small businesses in your state.
While the program may go by different names elsewhere and have various levels of costs associated with it, a call to your local utility should get the ball rolling. In San Diego, more than 2,000 sites have acquired state-of-the-art energy-efficient equipment before the end of the program's first year. This includes the latest in energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration improvements, LED 'open' and 'exit' signs, and occupancy sensors.
It also includes something called vending misers, which are devices that make vending machines 50 percent more energy efficient by shutting off lights when no one is around and powering down refrigeration when the sodas are cold. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical vending machine equipped with this technology and meeting its ENERGY STAR criteria could save your business in the neighborhood of 1,500 kWh per year compared to standard models.
Through SDG&E's program in San Diego and Southern Orange County, offices, bar and grilles, churches, fitness centers, barber shops and more have become more energy efficient without the upfront costs.
Qualifying businesses get a free energy consultation provided by the utility's contracted specialists. The contractors identify where less-efficient equipment can be replaced with more energy-efficient products to reduce your energy use, carbon footprint and electric bill -- all at no cost to you! And they'll work with you to identify a convenient time for the equipment installation -- during regular business hours or after-hours to minimize any disruption to your business.
With businesses seeking savings everywhere they can, teaming up with your utility on programs such as these is a smart move.
Photo credit: usatech.com
Ted M. Reguly is the director of Customer Programs & Assistance at San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and previously served as director of the Smart Meter and Home Area Network initiatives for the utility. He oversees SDG&E's energy efficiency, demand response and customer assistance programs. He is an active member of UtilityAMI, OpenAMI and the ZigBee Alliance, and also serves on the board of directions for the utility technology association, Utilimetrics.