What ‘Green’ Decisions Can Small Businesses Make to Save Money?

Millions of small businesses nationwide may operate on fairly narrow margins in order to turn a profit, and that means every dollar spent typically carries considerable weight. For this reason, many owners across the country are turning to "green" ways to save money, and often finding significant success with doing so.

There are a number of ways in which small businesses can use more power than they might expect, which in turn leads to high energy bills that can be difficult to deal with, according to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately, a number of them are actually just common-sense changes that can be made with little or no cost.

For instance, instituting a policy of turning off lights in rooms that aren't in use is a great way to save money, because it simply cuts the amount of power being used over the course of a month or a year, often far more appreciably than they might expect, the report said. For those companies that want to make a minimal investment in this issue going forward, it might be wise to install motion sensors throughout an office as a means of using far less energy automatically, taking the guesswork out of hoping employees remember to flip a switch on their way out of a room. Businesses may also be able to benefit from simply relying more on natural light and keeping electric ones off as much as possible. And of course, when it comes to this issue, taking the time to install energy efficient light bulbs instead of traditional incandescents will allow companies to save considerably on their power bills, with the added bonus that these bulbs last significantly longer than the old variety.

However, lights are one thing, but other electrical equipment can have an even more negative effect on their power use, the report said. Computers that are left plugged in, for instance, tend to use electricity even without being on, and for this reason it might be wise to unplug them over the weekend or even every night when leaving the office. This can also be applied to other plugged-in office products such as copy machines and the like.

Where cooling comes in
Many small businesses may also face much higher energy bills in the summer simply because they have to run the air conditioners constantly, the report said. While this is often unavoidable for many companies, simply because of the climate for their regions, it may be possible to install ceiling fans to help reduce how hard air conditioners have to work, or even push back the date at which they are being used. Setting fans to pull air up, with a counter-clockwise motion, (because heat rises) can make a room feel cooler, and allow an A/C unit to be set to a slightly higher temperature. Fans tend to use far less energy than air conditioners, as well. Doing this in the winter, and setting the fans to rotate clockwise, will similarly help to increase the flow of hot air downward, which in turn means lower heating bills.

Small business owners concerned about their energy bills may also want to look into what they're paying for their various small business insurance policies. Examining how much their monthly premiums for general liability insurance and other types of coverage may allow them to find ways to reduce these costs, as that can help to improve their profit margins because they'll be spending less on the often necessary types of insurance businesses take on.