Small business owners everywhere are taking big steps to fight climate change and forge a more sustainable future. For example, Ubiquitous Energy — an SBIR-STTR funding recipient based in Redwood City, California — developed a transparent coating that enables window glass to generate solar power, thus reducing a building’s carbon footprint.
Even if your company isn’t developing game-changing technologies, there are simple steps you can take to save energy and money while also lowering emissions. Here are a few examples:
- Lighting: Making simple lighting adjustments to your place of business can lower your emissions and help you save on your electricity bills. The first step is to turn off lights when they aren’t needed. Next, upgrade your lightbulbs to highly efficient light emitting diodes, or LEDs. It’s estimated that LEDs use about 75% less energy and last 25 times longer compared to incandescent lighting. Lastly, consider installing “occupant sensors” to automatically turn lights on and off. You can also install timers on outside lights.
- Office equipment: Commonsense measures can go a long way toward increasing your business’s energy efficiency. It starts with turning off office equipment when it’s not in use. If your computers aren’t being used for a prolonged period of time, consider utilizing a power-management feature to place them into a low-power “sleep” mode. You can also use advanced power strips to prevent your electronics and office equipment from drawing energy when they don’t need it. Finally, print double-sided pages to save paper and reduce energy spent on printing if an electronic format is not possible
- Buildings: Did you know that buildings account for about 38% of total energy consumption? To make your small business’s facility more energy-efficient, block direct sunlight from shining through windows in the summer — but let the sun in during the day in the winter, while covering the windows at night. Sealing windows and doors with weather-stripping or caulk can help you prevent air leaks, further saving you energy and money on heating and cooling. Installing insulation can also keep electricity bills down.
ENERGY STAR offers efficiency tips for specific types of small businesses. Grocery stores and convenience stores, for instance, can adjust their refrigeration practices by keeping the doors of all refrigeration and freezer units shut as much as possible and cleaning the cooling coils on the backs of all units. With many businesses operating on a hybrid model these days, some offices aren’t occupied during certain times of the week. Programmable thermostats can prove ideal in these situations, saving about $180 in energy costs each year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to helping the environment, making your small business more energy-efficient can improve worker safety, reduce liability, and enhance your reputation in the community. For more easy ways to save energy and money, check out the Energy Department’s Energy Saver Guide.