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The “Stupidest” Energy Questions, Answered

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When it comes to your business' energy use, you probably have lots of questions. But, you might be afraid to ask them because they seem too simple. Here's the good news: there is no such thing as a stupid question, and we're here to answer some of your most common energy questions.

What types of businesses use the most energy?

If you're thinking about opening a new business, you need to estimate what your energy costs will look like year-round. After all, your profits have to exceed your expenses-- and energy costs can quickly top the list! If you're planning to open one of these types of businesses, make sure you're prepared for high energy use.

  • Car lots, with bright lights both on the property and in the showroom
  • Grocery stores and bakeries, where you need bright lights to display your products (and to make it easy for customers to read labels)
  • Convenience stores
  • Hotels and motels, which have lights and heating and air units running 24/7

Why is my electric bill always so high?

As a business owner, you have plenty of expenses taking up space in your budget and draining your available funds--and your energy bill is a big one! Keep in mind, however, everything energy does for your business.

  • It keeps your equipment running, from office equipment like printers and computers to factory equipment.
  • It keeps your facility at a reasonable temperature no matter what the weather's like outside.
  • It provides artificial lighting that makes it possible for both employees and customers to see clearly.
  • It keeps your gadgets running smoothly.
  • It makes food prep possible, from the ovens and fridges in restaurants to that microwave in your break room.

The energy running through the lines in your business accomplishes a lot of tasks every day--and the more you rely on it or the larger your facility, the higher that energy bill is going to be.

How can I reduce the amount of energy my business uses?

There are several strategies you can use to reduce energy use throughout your building. While there are plenty of ways you can reduce your energy use, these strategies will give you a great start.

  • Drop the temperature (or raise it in the summer). One or two degrees might not make a big difference to your employees and customers, but it can make a substantial impact on your energy bill.
  • Take advantage of natural light instead of blocking out the sun and using artificial lights through the building.
  • Use energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs.
  • Turn off computers when they aren't actively in use. Use power strips to make it easy to shut everything down when the day is over.

Do I really need an energy audit?

If you genuinely want to reduce energy costs throughout your building, it's helpful to have someone come in and perform an energy audit that will let you know exactly where your building is wasting energy. During an energy audit, a professional will come through and check to find the areas where you're wasting energy, discover the potential problems throughout your business.

Not ready to hire a professional? Luckily, you can do it yourself on a smaller scale with a self-energy audit. Check out our Slideshare below where we walk you through the steps.

Is solar power something that would benefit my business?

Many businesses have found that, while the initial cost of solar panels might be prohibitive, the energy savings over time makes it well worth it. Solar power can significantly reduce your energy bill--but keep in mind that you'll still need a traditional power connection to make up for the energy that your business can't absorb from the sun. Using solar energy can also earn you that great "green" label that will help improve the way many potential customers view your business.

What's the deal with ENERGY STAR?

ENERGY STAR is a specific set of standards that reflect the devices that use less energy in order to accomplish the same tasks. In some industries, there is specific equipment that can be used in order to significantly reduce energy expenses. In others, everything from the fridge in the break room to the equipment you choose to use on a regular basis can be selected according to ENERGY STAR standards. By choosing ENERGY STAR models, you'll reduce the amount of energy used by your business-- and decrease your bill along with it.

How can I get my employees more invested in saving energy?

You can put energy-saving measures in place throughout the company, from installing motion sensors that will turn off the lights when everyone leaves a conference room to raising the blinds to let in more sunlight. But, if your employees aren't on board, you won't experience nearly the energy savings. Get your employees on board using these tactics.

  • Show them the numbers: give them a look at how much the company can save by implementing energy-saving measures.
  • Train employees on how to reduce energy use. Many things that are taken for granted by the average employee should be covered in order to let them know exactly what's expected.
  • Offer incentives for departments that are able to successfully reduce energy use from one month to the next.

Plus, download our poster kit and place some friendly energy reminders in your business. Keeping energy efficiency top-of-mind can go a long way in helping save extra dollars every month.

How important is HVAC maintenance?

HVAC maintenance is a critical part of reducing your energy bill and ensuring that you'll be able to keep your business running smoothly. Not only should you make sure that you're changing out your filters on a regular basis--an important step for both business owners and homeowners--you should conduct an annual inspection to be sure that your HVAC unit is operating at peak efficiency. If it isn't, making needed repairs to the unit or installing a new one can lead to substantial energy savings.

How much savings can I really get by turning off computers at the end of the day?

You--and your employees--have better things to do with your time than walk around, making sure that every machine has been turned off at the end of the day. Is it really worth it to make sure that it's turned off at the end of the day, that monitors haven't been left on, and that the computer shuts down or goes to sleep when it's not in use? As it turns out, it might be well worth your time. At an average cost of $0.13 per kWh (the average cost of electricity per kilowatt hour across the United States), you'll pay around $18-$19 per year per computer that's left on all day. If you have a big building filled with computers that are left running for an extra 12 or more hours per day--or $9-$10 per year--that savings can add up fast!

You've spent plenty of time thinking about how to save costs for your business. This simple guide can help answer some of your most pressing questions and make it easier for you to get the energy savings you so desperately need in order to keep your budget in line.

Now that all your "silly" questions have been answered, why not test your energy IQ? We asked 20 people energy trivia questions. Think you can beat them?

Take The Energy Quiz

Posted: September 28, 2017