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Currents fall 2012: 10 ways to make your business more energy efficient

By , - Last modified: November 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

In a world of efficient light bulbs, energy audits and vehicles powered by alternative fuel, taking time to examine your business’s energy usage can really add up in savings.

Here are some ways to get started.


Switch out your lighting

Simple things such as changing to CFL bulbs can make a big difference.

Allentown-based PPL Electric Utilities, which provides electricity to 1.4 million customers in 29 counties in Central and eastern Pennsylvania, also has energy efficiency rebates available to all customers — both business and residential. That means money back for upgrading an HVAC system or replacing an old fridge in the break room with a more energy-efficient one.


Install motion sensors or timers that turn off lights in spaces that aren’t being used. “Some of these things are not rocket science,” said Aubrey Bauman, marketing project manager at AMERIgreen, a Lancaster-based energy provider.


Use blinds to your advantage

Pull them down to keep out sun during hot summer days. Open them in winter to let midday sun help heat a room. Use daylight rather than electric lights when possible.


Use a programmable thermostat

Dial it up a few degrees in summer or down a few degrees in winter. Just make sure you keep it in a comfortable range for most employees.


Recycle paper

“We use Shred-it — It’s a big bin, and once a month they come pick it up,” Bauman said.


Print smart

Print double-sided whenever possible. Use recycled paper and inks with fewer chemicals.


Invest in vehicles powered by alternative fuels

All 15 cars in AMERIgreen’s fleet run on some form of alternative fuel — biodiesel, ethanol or a mix of electric and gasoline.

Although such vehicles can be more expensive to buy, they cost less to maintain and can save money over time.

“We have been able to see the long-term benefits,” Bauman said. “We have had to do less maintenance on our vehicles because it burns cleaner.”


Join an energy procurement program

If you belong to a chamber of commerce, ask whether it offers this service to purchase electricity at lower prices.


Take advantage of discount and rebate programs

Joe Nixon, spokesman for PPL, said a direct discount service that the company started last year has been extremely popular.

The program offers rebates that cover up to 75 percent of the upfront costs for lighting and refrigeration upgrades for customers on the small-business rate schedule. Businesses simply choose from a list of approved contractors who take care of the paperwork for them.

To date, the program has paid out $6.5 million in rebates to businesses. Nixon said that’s enough energy to power 4,500 U.S. homes for a year.


Get an energy audit

Some of the energy procurement services offer free energy audits that can look at your operation and recommend basic steps to save energy.

For companies that need a more specialized examination of energy use, Lancaster-based High Construction Co. offers a more in-depth analysis and energy-saving methods.

Mike Mumper, director of the company’s Energy Solutions Group said, “Even if (businesses) are measuring how much they are using, the question is whether that is the right amount or wrong amount.”


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