Easy Energy Fixes for Big Savings

With the cost of energy rising, what can you do now to lower your energy bills? Some quick yet inexpensive fixes can pay off handsomely.

Lighting your premises may account for 20% to 50% (http://www.sba.gov/content/lighting) of your monthly electric bill. There are many steps you can take that will provide significant savings.

• Install energy-efficient fluorescent overhead lighting; replace old fluorescent bulbs with new, more energy-efficient bulbs.
• Install compact fluorescent bulbs in task lights and high-performance T8 lamps and ballasts and/or pulse-start metal halide systems in larger applications. A compact fluorescent light uses 75% less electricity to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb.
• Install lighting control systems, including daylighting controls, occupancy sensors, and timers, to turn lights down or off when they are not needed.
• Convert exit lights to LEDs (light-emitting diodes); these use only two to three watts and can last up to 20 years.
• Clean bulbs, fixtures, and lenses to increase lighting output.

Check with your local utility company about programs it may offer to help you with lighting questions. For example, in the New York City area, ConEdison has a Small Business Direct Installation Program (www.coned.com/energyefficiency/businessdirect.asp) for customers with an average peak monthly electric demand under 100kW. ConEd-approved vendors will conduct a free energy survey of your facility to show you how you can spend less on lighting. They will also install compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) (there’s no cost for the installation).

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Basics (www.eere.energy.gov/basics/) can also help you make smart decisions about lighting and other items.

Vehicle maintenance
Your business may use a car, truck, van, or multiple vehicles, and gasoline can be a significant cost for your business. The better your vehicle is maintained, the less gas you’ll use. Here are some simple, inexpensive ways to improve your gas mileage:

• Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% when the pressure in all four tires drops by just 1 pound per square inch (psi).
• Get regular tune-ups. You’ll save an average of 4% on gas usage over the cost of vehicles that are out of tune or have failed emissions tests. (See even greater savings through tune-ups when a car has are more serious problems or by fixing small issues before they become costly repairs).
• Change the oil regularly. Use the oil recommended by the manufacturer to improve gas mileage by 1-2%.
• Replace clogged air filters for vehicles with carbureted engines (for fuel-injected vehicles, this won’t improve mileage but will help with acceleration).

Find more tips from the U.S. Department of Energy (www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml).

Article provided by Sentry Insurance, courtesy of Barbara Weltman, publisher of Big Ideas for Small Business, a monthly newsletter. Barbara has been a tax and business attorney since 1977 and, through the years, has developed a reputation as an insightful source of knowledge for small businesses.
For more information, visit: http://www.barbaraweltman.com.

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