Improving Your Business’s Energy Efficiency

Improving Your Business’s Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Senate signed a landmark climate action bill into law which aims to lower the country’s carbon dioxide emissions to 40% below 2005 levels. Broadly speaking, this means setting the stage for companies to build an economy around renewable energy. But what does it mean for your business?

As you’re working to reduce emissions and fossil fuel usage, you could also be creating a strong selling point to potential customers to grow your business. You could also find attractive financing options in the process and lock-in lower operating costs to boost your profitability. Here what you need to know.

What does business energy efficiency look like?

Being energy efficient has become easier than ever. Some businesses might go to great lengths to build a solar array on their buildings or invest in building with sustainable materials. But there are small, incremental efforts you can make that will go a long way in your business’s energy use. Start with these ideas:

  • Change your sourcing: Most electric companies in New York State now offer the option to switch to renewable energy right on your electric bill. If you’re outside of New York, check with your energy provider to see what they offer for renewable options.
  • Install efficient lighting: Incandescent light bulbs use significantly more energy and burn out quicker than the latest LED bulbs. LED lighting is easier than ever to find and is available at every hardware store.
  • Use routing apps: If you’re using vehicles for your business, routing apps can help you combine delivery trips to save gas. This not only saves money and reduces carbon emissions, but it also saves a lot of time.

With just these basic measures you can immediately cut your business’s energy consumption. From there, you can go even further. Here’s what you can do next to save more money and improve your business’s energy efficiency.

Benchmarking your business’s energy efficiency

The first step in reducing your business’s carbon footprint and energy usage is to benchmark its performance. Luckily, there are many easy-to-use calculators online that can help you complete this task, like Terrapass, Native, or Climate Impact Partners. You’ll need to gather the following information:

  • Hours of operation per day: Your hours of operation per day impact how long the lights are turned on and how long the temperature is maintained at a specific level.
  • Age of your building and vehicles: The age of your building can help determine the energy efficiency of your insulation, your HVAC system, electrical system, and more. The age of your vehicle can help determine its fuel efficiency.
  • General operation: Certain aspects of your business’s operation significantly affect its energy efficiency. Consider the following questions:
    • How much landscaped property, if any, do you have around your building?
    • Do you use gas in food preparation or other production processes?
    • What supplies do you use in packaging products for customers?

Purchasing carbon offsets for your business

The easiest way to start reducing your business’s carbon footprint is purchasing carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are programs that conduct activities to reduce carbon dioxide in the environment. This could include planting trees, capturing emissions from landfills, and supporting energy efficiency projects.

These programs have calculated exactly how much carbon dioxide their projects remove from the environment. Once you benchmark your energy usage in tons, you can choose an offset program to match that amount of emissions, or even exceed it. You’ll want to make sure that you choose a program that provides carbon offsets that impact your local area.

There are many carbon offset programs to choose from, but you can get started with the offerings from Terrapass, 3Degrees, and Clear.

Government programs for business energy efficiency

Another way that you can improve your business’s energy efficiency is making upgrades to your infrastructure that will reduce energy consumption. Did you know there are government programs that will help you do this? In general, there are two types of government programs for energy efficiency: preferential financing and direct payments.

Preferential financing

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers two types of loan programs to support businesses making investments in energy efficient infrastructure. The first is the NYSERDA loan program that’s available from lenders throughout the state. You can get approved for up to $100,000 to improve your business’s energy efficiency through this program.

The second is the on-bill recovery loan program. Through this program, you can access up to $50,000 in financing, and you’ll repay the loan with payments added to your monthly utility bills. These programs help support projects like upgrading your HVAC system, installing lower cost lighting systems, installing solar panels or battery systems, and improving the overall insulation of your facility.

For larger projects in New York, you can get in touch with the NYS Green Bank. The Green Bank offers financing for larger energy efficiency projects. If you’re a contractor that’s working on energy efficiency projects, the Green Bank could be the most suitable source for long term affordable financing.

Direct payments

Direct payment programs are designed for larger investments in energy efficiency. They offer large amounts for making substantial investments in energy efficiency, and also support businesses that are completing construction and development projects for the state. You can find out more about these projects through NYSERDA.

Funding is available through rebates (money you get back after proving that you spent it for eligible uses), grants (cash payments from the government that are tax-free on the state level), and cost sharing.

However you improve your business’s energy efficiency, think long term

When you’re making improvements to your energy efficiency, remember that it’s a long-term goal and not something that can be done overnight. Ready to reduce your energy use permanently? Start by preparing a budget that compares your current energy cost against the upfront costs of making energy upgrades plus the savings those upgrades will bring.

And if you need financing for your energy efficiency improvements, talk to Pursuit! You’ll find financing for nearly any business need among our 15+ business loan programs.

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