5 Ways to Lower Your Business’s Carbon Footprint (And save money while you’re at it…)

5 Ways to Lower Your Business’s Carbon Footprint (And save money while you’re at it…)

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. 

Cart Before the Horse

Cart Before the Horse

Cart before the horse

 

We’ve all heard the expression the “CART BEFORE THE HORSE.” It’s an idiom used to suggest something is done contrary to the way it should be done, should have been done, or with the wrong emphasis.

Using this phrase in relation to “Energy Efficiency and Solar” solutions is a very relative topic and is addressed daily as we consult with our clients and our own representatives.

Whenever I am conversing with people about their energy issues and educating them on the solutions that we provide, by default they immediately refer to renewable energy, wind, batteries, solar, etc. Of those items, the most expensive is the Solar option. While there is most definitely a significant need for renewable energy such as solar, it most definitely needs to be placed “BEHIND THE HORSE!”

Purchasing solar for a house that is “energy-inefficient” is… putting the “CART BEFORE THE HORSE.” It would be the epitome of throwing dollars out of your vehicle window while driving down the road. It makes little sense to add solar panels to a home that has clapped out air ducts, poor insulation, no ventilation, a passive attic environment, unbalanced attic air and exhaust flow, 50-year-old windows, and/or other inefficient problems. Putting energy efficiency before solar, on the other hand, makes a whole lot more sense.  

Typical home energy improvements need to be implemented before the plunge into solar, and there are a few steps that can be taken to make your home or business more efficient first. Examples are:

  • Stop using some of the devices or units that are drawing substantial power
  • Limit the daily use of units or items
  • Find less expensive alternatives for the power consuming items that you have
  • Ventilate your attic space properly and balanced
  •  Insulate your attic space with the proper solution(s)
  • Create a positive/passive environment by way of exhaust fans that are solar powered 
  • Replace existing light bulbs (where most of the energy used turns into heat rather than light) with LED bulbs
  • Upgrade your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Replace your old refrigerator and freezer with new, high-efficiency models (either energy-efficient or propane)
  • Replace high energy consumption loads (high-wattage electric stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters, heating appliances)
  • Make an external and/or an internal isolation of your home
  • Utilize your large electrical loads (pool pumps, electrical mills, etc.) during off-peak hours
  • Install solar water heaters and summer shading
  • Utilize devices with timers and other home automation systems
  • If you live in the U.S., when shopping for electrical appliances, look for devices labeled with Energy Star® labels

 

ACES provides many solutions and improvements with examples like sealing air leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, and fireplaces, to spray foam, and weather stripping, amongst many other things we do and offer. The energy savings from reducing drafts in a home alone, not including your attic, can range from 5% to 30%+ per year, and the home is much more comfortable and healthier afterward. What I have experienced is that 99% of the time, and I don’t use that number lightly, the energy efficiency solutions and repairs are less expensive, but most importantly necessary before adding solar. 

create EEcreate They are also necessary for comfort, as well as the obvious fiscal benefits. Upon completing energy efficiency upgrades and repairs for our clients, across the board our clients experience an average savings of 30%, with some clients exceeding 40% or more! What does this mean? This means that instead of a solar system that offsets 100% of your power needs, you now would only need to purchase a system that offsets 70% of your needs. The energy efficiency upgrades and repairs will account for the 30% balance. AND… you now get to enjoy the comfort and health benefits on top of the pocket-book! 

The Energy Efficiency Before Solar Solution 

So let’s be honest with ourselves and just look at this subject from an elementary perspective. Energy efficiency before solar just makes sense simply because saving energy is less expensive than producing it. By improving energy efficiency the cost of the photovoltaic (solar) system you are going to install will be reduced. The more energy you need, the more energy has to be generated. This again means that to meet your daily electricity needs, you have to buy a system that is sufficient enough to offset what you need. So putting the comfort and health benefits aside for a moment, we must not forget about the fiscal benefits of energy efficiency and solar. They are definitely attractive!, but the cart needs to remain “BEHIND THE HORSE”.

The “CART BEFORE THE HORSE” concept is imperative to reverse or realign correctly so that your R.O.I. is quicker and so that it makes the most sense. While the amount of savings varies by state, even a small reduction in dependency on traditional energy sources can indeed have a profound impact on a household budget, especially over time. Many homeowners find that the benefits from solar far outweigh the initial costs, combined with the cost of installation continuing to drop each year as well.

For our eco-conscious homeowners/clients, we know that they rely on a number of materials, installation techniques, and appliances that can help, but the one thing that has been increasing in popularity as it decreases in price is indeed solar. The single most significant problem that I see on a regular basis is that solar has to be, and must be, “Post Efficiency Solutions/Repairs and Upgrades”. That doesn’t mean that if you have solar already that you’re toast! Efficiency solutions should still be implemented with no hesitation. The point that I am driving home is that the ball is in your court if you haven’t installed solar yet! You’ll end up with less solar on your home and the same fiscal benefits, not to forget all of the comfort and health benefits.

Your Invitation to Energy Efficiency: 

Do it the right way and accomplish your goals! If you already have solar, you still have the option to place the cart “BEHIND THE HORSE”, and improve the efficiency of your home! Your ROI will be longer but it still makes sense. If you don’t have solar yet, experience a quicker and more cost effective outcome and put the cart “BEHIND THE HORSE” starting from day one. Placing the cart “BEHIND THE HORSE”, making your home as efficient as possible first, allows you to experience increased savings, a quicker ROI, a healthier home, and a more comfortable home! This is indeed the way forward! 

 

What are you waiting for?

LEDs–An Easy Way To Improve The Bottom Line For Businesses

LEDs–An Easy Way To Improve The Bottom Line For Businesses

You may have noticed a change slowly creeping over the City of St. George for the past few years.

One by one, the yellowish cast of high-pressure sodium street lights has been replaced by a clean, white glow beaming down from the new light-emitting diode, or LED light fixtures installed city employees.

If the switch has happened in your neighborhood, the first thing that probably jumped out at you was a significant change in color temperature and what felt like much brighter light beaming through your front windows at night.
After a few days of acclimation, however, they seem almost as natural as walking under the light of a full moon.
“They’re more of a moonlight type light that is softer on the eyes and provides better night vision,” said Laurie Mangum, director of the Energy Services Department for the City of St. George, according to an article in the Spectrum, dating back to 2015, when the city first began the project.

Of course, drivers navigating the city streets with better night vision improves the safety of the citizens of St. George, but that’s not the only reason the city made the change.

The biggest benefit is in the energy savings LEDs can provide.

LED bulbs last longer and use up to 50 percent less energy than the old sodium street lamps they’re replacing, and municipalities across the country have been converting to LED to realize the cost savings.

At the time, the city had recently had an analysis performed on all its systems which indicated some $4 million could be saved over the next 15 years with efficiency upgrades to lighting, plumping, control systems and other items.

While the street lighting project wasn’t included in those numbers, city officials determined the cost savings of the street light project was significant enough to pursue on its own.

“It’s more than just a feel-good project,” Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said, according to the Spectrum. “It’s actually something that will have a substantial payback and benefit all of us.”

Municipalities aren’t the only entities realizing the savings of switching to LED lighting.

A number of Southern Utah business owners are drastically lowering their power bills with this new technology as well.

“We’re resurfacing our entire parking lot at St. George Shuttle and brighter LED lighting seemed like a natural addition to that project,” said CJ Wade, the owner of St. George Shuttle.

On top of that, we’re further reducing our carbon footprint and the biggest bonus is the benefit to our bottom line. The proposal we looked at from ACES LED showed a huge potential for savings – a fantastic return on our investment – and we’re excited to see that first power bill after the project is finished.”

ACES Companies, a Utah-based company offering energy efficiency, solar and LED products, has been helping businesses throughout the state realize significant savings from converting to LED lighting. 

“Switching to LED makes so much sense for almost every business,” said Ty Haguewood, the President of the LED division at ACES Companies.

“When we show our clients the numbers, even on a fully financed project, they almost always come out ahead every month, right from the start. When your business is going to be saving a couple hundred dollars on power every month, and paying a fraction of that for the install, it’s a no-brainer.”

“The reduction to their carbon footprint and better quality lighting in their buildings that will improve the productivity of their employees, those benefits are just gravy on top,” Haguewood added. “Once a business owner sees just how quickly they can get a return with LED lights, they’re always eager to make the switch as quickly as we can get them installed.”

To schedule a walk through and get a free proposal for switching your business to LED lighting call Ty Haguewood with ACES Companies at (435) 232-2821, or visit the ACES Companies website at acescompanies.com