by Matt Alderton | April 10, 2019
Summer is right around the corner. That means not only warmer weather, but also higher energy costs. And for small businesses in particular, that could have unfortunate consequences for the bottom line.

"Small and medium businesses represent 90 percent of all businesses, and consume 40 percent to 50 percent of the nation's energy," author Mark Henderson writes in an article for "One in 10 small business owners states that energy is his or her single greatest cost -- more than wages, salaries, materials and supplies. Another 25 percent say that energy is their second or third largest business cost."

Given the size of their energy bills, now is an ideal time for organizations to begin thinking about how they can shrink their energy footprint.

Utility incentives are a powerful and underutilized tool, according to Henderson, who says many utilities offer rebates and incentives for businesses that install energy-efficient lighting, thermostats, insulation and/or appliances. "Many organizations are unaware that their utility providers subsidize the cost of implementing energy-efficient technology, which can dramatically increase their return on investment," he explains. "The average small business that operates around 50 light bulbs can save more than $500 each year simply by switching to LEDs, which also last 25-50 times longer than standard light bulbs. Businesses can work directly with their local energy-management contractors or distributors to install the latest high-efficiency products and appliances in their facility."

Some utility companies might even finance energy-efficient improvements. "For small businesses looking to begin their sustainability journey and cut down on energy costs, green financing options are increasingly available through financial organizations, utility providers and state agencies," Henderson says. "It's now possible to pay loans back through the energy bill, whether it's a loan for a full efficiency transformation with new smart and connected equipment or just to purchase new lighting."

Before the first heat wave, therefore, consider contacting your utility and seeking its professional counsel.

Concludes Henderson, "Utilities can make unbiased, comprehensive recommendations by evaluating the top sources of energy consumption and operational considerations for a customer -- such as business hours, temperature requirements and supply-chain schedules -- and help improve how businesses operate."

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