When small business owners write down their top expenses, you may not expect to see heating costs near the top of the list. But according to the National Federation of Independent Business, 35% of small business owners name energy costs as one of their top three expenses — especially heating and cooling. Following these winter energy saving tips for small businesses can help you reduce your heating bills, become more price competitive and increase profits.
1. Conduct an Audit
Kick-off your energy-saving efforts with an audit from your local utility company. They can spot energy inefficiencies, flag opportunities to cut energy costs, and give you an action plan for saving energy this winter.
2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
You may not need to heat a workplace after-hours, on weekends or during holidays. If your staff works at different hours, you can use a programmable thermostat to control temperature settings during “off” hours. During the winter months, keep the thermostat at 68 degrees.
3. Change Filters in the Heating System
Inspect your heating system’s filters monthly and change them at least every six months. Clogged filters slow down the airflow and reduce the heat exchange rate. This requires the furnace to use more energy to maintain the same room temperatures, resulting in higher utility costs — one of the sneakiest small business costs.
4. Repair Air Leaks
Don’t let your expensive heat escape through leaks around windows and doors. Small, unnoticeable drafts can result in substantial heat loss.
Seal leaks with a few tubes of caulk or weatherstripping. Sometimes, just locking the windows will reduce leaks by pulling them tighter against the stripping in their frames.
5. Plant Tree and Shrubs
Properly placed evergreen trees can act as windbreaks to block cold northwest winter winds. Windbreaks lower the wind chill factor and reduce heating costs. Plant shrubs and bushes about 1 foot from your building. The space acts as an insulator and slows down heat escaping through the walls.
6. Take Advantage of Window Coverings
Energy.gov estimates about 30% of a building’s heating energy is lost through its windows. However, window coverings can act as insulators and reduce some of this heat loss. For example, insulated cellular shades with their pleated, accordion-like style are highly resistant to heat transfer.
If your building has windows on its south side, keep blinds and drapes open in the winter to bring in heat from the sun.
7. Clear Outlet Grilles
Make sure your heating air intake and outlet grilles are not blocked by furniture or paper. Obstructed grilles put more of a burden on the system’s fans to move heated air through an office. Also, check your ductwork for air leaks or any damage to insulation.
8. Keep Outside Doors Closed
While it’s common sense to keep interior windows and doors shut during winter, this practice should also be applied to outside doors for loading bays and maintenance areas. Keeping the outside doors closed makes it easier to maintain interior office temperatures.
9. Involve Your Employees
Educate your employees about your efforts to lower heating bills and how they will benefit. Encourage them to get involved and come up with their own ideas to conserve energy.
These winter energy saving tips for small businesses can reduce your operating costs and improve profits. And if you don’t have the budget to make structural improvements, a short-term business loan could cover the costs to keep in that precious heat.