Global warming, carbon tax, cap and trade, going green, carbon footprint, the buzz words surrounding the topic are endless.

What it comes down to, however, is pretty simple. How much pollution is your business responsible for creating on a daily basis?

We’ve all seen the massive amounts of pollution trapped along the Wasatch Front every winter. Inversion is a huge issue in this state. While it may not be as pressing a concern here in Southern Utah, it won’t be long before that changes. Our valleys will be as polluted as those surrounding the state capitol in Salt Lake City if we continue spewing carbon emissions without regard to the impact.

The good news is, it’s fairly easy to lower your carbon footprint and reduce the amount of pollution your business creates. And the best part of the deal is, it’ll make your business more profitable at the same time.

On top of the financial benefits, the value your business can glean from a boost in reputation and brand awareness for your green efforts shouldn’t be overlooked.

Going green isn’t something your business should do quietly. You should make sure everyone knows all about your efforts to make the planet and our community a better place to live and breathe.

Here are five simple and easy steps you can take today to save on energy and make your business greener:

#1) Power your business down at night and over the weekends.

It’s an easy step. Turn off computers, lights, anything and everything you can when your business is closed.

The simplest way to do this is to engage your employees. Ask them to do their best to create a more environmentally friendly business.

But if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, you can also monitor your small business consumption with the installation of an energy monitoring system.

Your power bill tells you little more than how much energy your business consumed as a whole and how much it cost you each month.

Energy monitors attach to your circuit breaker panel and will allow you to get much more detailed reports about which devices are consuming how much power. They’re fairly inexpensive, they start at about $300. And there are a number of companies that sell them. Sense, (https://sense.com) Schneider Electric (https://www.se.com/us/en/home/smart-home/wiser/), and TED (http://www.theenergydetective.com/) to name a few.

Each of these devices comes with access to either an app on your phone or a dashboard on the internet. This allows you to see, in real-time, which individual devices are consuming power and how much power they’re consuming throughout your home or business.

Armed with this detailed information, you can easily find ways to reduce your consumption. You may decide it’s time to replace that old power hog of a refrigerator in the break room. Or you may decide to give the heater a nudge up once you see just how much the space heaters your employees are bringing in are consuming instead.

#2) Set your thermostat properly or install a smart thermostat.

If you don’t already have a programmable or a smart thermostat, get one.

Adjust the thermostat to shut down the HVAC system when your business is closed and to turn back on just before you open the doors in the morning.

Heating or cooling your building is, far and away, the largest source of power consumption. And that makes it the largest portion of the carbon footprint for most homes and businesses. Simply turning the thermostat off when no one’s around, and adjusting it by a degree or two can save huge amounts of energy and money.

Don’t freeze your employees too much during the winter, however. Paying for space heaters can be more expensive than simply turning the heat up a degree or two. Pay attention to your business and your employees and manage your thermostat accordingly.

#3) Be aware of “Peak Demand” charges.

Depending on the size of your business and electricity use you may be seeing a “peak demand” charge on your power bill every month.

This is a charge your power company assesses to cover the maximum amount of energy your business uses at a single point in time during the month.

Think of it this way, if you bake bread at your business and turn on all of your electric ovens at the same exact time every morning, you’re going to have a very large “peak demand.”

If instead, you bake bread throughout the day and only turn on one oven at a time, you’ll reduce your “peak demand” and you’ll lower your power bill because the power company won’t have to ensure the availability of all the electricity you were demanding by turning all your ovens on at once.

Doing everything you can to ensure you don’t turn everything on at the same time inside your business can help lower your demand charges and greatly reduce your power bill.

From staggering the start times of large pieces of electric machinery to setting the programs to turn the AC and heat on at different times in the morning if you have more than one thermostat in your building, there are numerous ways to reduce your peak demand. And remember, many electrical appliances like AC units and heaters, use a much greater amount of electricity when they first power on than they do when they’re running and act accordingly.

#4) Switch to LED lighting wherever possible.

Most homeowners have been swapping out incandescent bulbs for LED for years now.

But many businesses still run hugely inefficient sodium vapor lights in their parking lots or a store full of fluorescent tubes.

Swapping out those energy hogging lights for more efficient options can save your business thousands of dollars every month and make the return on the investment very attractive for a business owner willing to swap out all the lights in a large facility.

A commercial energy efficiency expert, like the ones at ACES Lyfe (http://aceslyfe.com) in St. George, can do a quick walk through of your business and let you know just how much energy and money you can save by making the switch to LED.

#5) Go solar.

There’s a reason large corporations such as Apple, Google, Ikea, Kohl’s, Target, and hundreds of others have gone solar. It saves them money and fixes their costs.

Locking in your power rates can not only nearly eliminate your carbon footprint, it can also really help your businesses bottom line.

Going solar not only gives you a great way to show the public you’re serious about being a green company, it also means rate increases from the power company for the electricity your business is going to need, won’t impact your bottom line.

Your business can stay more competitive because your expenses are fixed instead of being at the mercy of the power company’s rate hikes.

Even if power rates rise at just the same rate as inflation, in 25 years, your business will be paying about twice as much for power as it is today.

With options for funding through Utah’s CPACE program and federal and state rebates and incentives for businesses that go solar, there’s never been a better time to switch to the clean, green, energy that beats down on your businesses rooftop every single day.

Again, a local solar and energy efficiency company like ACESLyfe, will be happy to put together numbers for your business and show you just how much you can save.

After you lower your carbon footprint and go green, then what?

At the end of the day, what most business owners care about is, how much they can save. Adopting these five strategies to lower your carbon footprint can help business owners increase profits simply through the savings they’ll see on their fixed costs.

But what’s not baked into those numbers is the increase in brand reputation and sales a business can realize by leveraging their status as a “green company.”

Once you go green, posting frequently to social media, touting your efforts is a must. Let your followers and brand advocates know just how much you care about keeping the community as pollution-free as possible.

Pitch the story of your new solar installation and lower carbon footprint to the media. Brag about your status as a green company as much as you can in your advertising efforts.

In this age of the internet where every business can be found online, making sure your brand is as well represented as possible in every organic channel you can find is imperative. Your brand, your reputation, is more significant now than ever before because information about your company is so easy to find on the internet.

It’s extremely important to ensure good information about your business can be found online, and your status as a green company is indeed good information.

When you couple the incalculable value your brand gets from the good press for going green with the very real and clearly definable value the savings in energy costs provides, it’s surprising there aren’t more business owners taking advantage of the strategy.